Check out today's top analyst calls from around Wall Street, compiled by The Fly.
GOLDMAN REMOVES WELLS FARGO FROM CONVICTION LIST: Goldman Sachs analyst Richard Ramsden downgraded Wells Fargo (WFC) to Neutral from Buy and removed the shares from his firm's Americas Conviction List. The recent departure of Tim Sloan and questions over the time it will take to find a replacement, coupled with commentary on the Q1 earnings call around weaker than expected net interest income growth for 2019, has increased focus on Wells Fargo's ability to meet near term and longer term financial targets, Ramsden told investors in a research note. The analyst expects the company's medium term operating leverage potential to be impacted by weaker net interest income growth. He cut his price target for the shares to $48 from $58. Additionally, Wells Fargo was downgraded to In Line from Outperform at Evercore ISI, cut to Neutral from Buy at BofA Merrill Lynch and downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Buckingham following its earnings report on Friday.
STEPHENS CUTS ALLIANCE DATA TO UNDERWEIGHT: Stephens analyst Vincent Caintic downgraded Alliance Data (ADS) to Underweight and lowered his price target to $165 from $188. The analyst believes that the $4.4B sale price for Epsilon and the $3.5B net proceeds to the company was "lower than market expectations." Caintic added that even though it is "tough to be negative" on Alliance Data ahead of his anticipated big buyback, he sees no positive catalysts for the stock in 2019 at this time.
Additionally, BMO Capital analyst Daniel Salmon downgraded Alliance Data Systems to Market Perform from Outperform and lowered his price target for the shares to $183 from $205 after the company announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Epsilon business to Publicis Groupe (PUBGY).
GOLDMAN CUTS NOKIA TO SELL: Goldman Sachs analyst Alexander Duval downgraded Nokia (NOK) to Sell from Neutral and cut his price target for the shares to $5.50 from $6.40. Consensus estimates have further downside as analysts factor in lower Networks revenues, a more conservative margin trajectory and "more muted" growth in the Nokia's "highly profitable" Patents business, Duval told investors in a research note. The analyst reduced his Networks growth rate on "subseasonal" growth in the first half of 2019 as well as management's "cautious" statements. Duval said these contrast with his industry discussions suggesting a wireless market growth inflection, due to 5G. He sees risks to Nokia's market share "given newsflow implying share gains by its main competitor, Ericsson (ERIC)."
NOMURA UPGRADES CHEMICAL STOCKS: Nomura Instinet analyst Aleksey Yefremov upgraded six names in Cyclical Chemicals ahead of the Q1 reporting season. The analyst sees the valuations as "encouraging" versus more defensive chemicals and the broader market. Select commodity prices are confirming better macro data, but large supply additions "are a limiting factor on how high stocks can go," Yefremov told investors in a research note. China macro data continued to improve recently and valuations for the six upgrades are below cycle-average, said the analyst. He upgraded to Buy from Neutral shares of Dow Inc. (DOW), Eastman Chemical (EMN), Huntsman (HUN) and LyondellBasell (LYB) and to Neutral from Sell shares of Westlake Chemical (WLK) and Olin (OLN).
LEVI STRAUSS INITIATED AROUND THE STREET: Levi Strauss (LEVI) was initiated with an Outperform at Telsey Advisory, an Overweight at JPMorgan, a Buy at Citi and Guggenheim, an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley, and a Neutral at Goldman Sachs and BofA/Merrill.
JPMorgan analyst Matthew Boss started Levi Strauss with an Overweight rating and $26 price target. The analyst views the combination of a "strong tenured management team" and brand heritage as a competitive advantage for Levi Strauss in expanding to a global lifestyle brand.
Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger started Levi Strauss with an Equal Weight rating and $23 price target. Her view is that the company still has "compelling" opportunities such as direct-to-consumer, international expansion and category diversification, but that while she is constructive on the stock "the market appears equally enthusiastic."
BofA/Merrill analyst Heather Balsky initiated Levi with a Neutral and $25 price target citing premium valuation.
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