Additionally, BioXcel has soared after SunTrust more than sextupled its price target
Check out today's top analyst calls from around Wall Street, compiled by The Fly.
BENCHMARK BOOSTS EXPEDIA TO BUY: Benchmark analyst Daniel Kurnos upgraded Expedia (EXPE) to Buy from Hold with a $155 price target. Although the quarterly results were somewhat disappointing, "Chairman Barry Diller's timing was impeccable, as the prior management team now gets to take the fall for the results," Kurnos told investors, adding that he expects Expedia will be "given a pass" for at least the next six months. While he suspects it may take some time to get growth back to a more reasonable level, shares are trading at a valuation well below historical norms and he sees the stock being at the "start of another leg higher," Kurnos said.
RBC CUTS YELP TO SECTOR PERFORM: RBC Capital analyst Shweta Khajuria downgraded Yelp (YELP) to Sector Perform from Outperform with a price target of $35, down from $40, after its Q4 earnings miss, with revenue and EBITDA also coming in below consensus estimates. The analyst added that Yelp's growth rates of Paying Advertising Locations and App Unique Device metrics decelerated to record lows, even though the management attributed the Q4 ad weakness to seasonality. Khajuria remains positive on the management's efforts to drive double-digit top-line growth and EBITDA margin expansion, but does not expect the stock to benefit from any fundamental catalysts this year.
CITI DOWNGRADES ESPERION TO NEUTRAL: Citi analyst Joel Beatty downgraded Esperion Therapeutics (ESPR) to Neutral from Buy with a price target of $82, up from $73. Approval around the February 21 FDA action date is now largely priced into the stock, Beatty told investors in a research note. Further, the analyst believes a moderate acquisition premium has entered the stock in recent weeks. Because of this, any gains in the stock upon approval of bempedoic acid will likely be lost over the following weeks, as it becomes apparent that Esperion will be launching the drug on their own, contended Beatty.
BOFA, JPMORGAN BOTH DOWNGRADE ALKERMES: BofA analyst Jason Gerberry downgraded Alkermes (ALKS) to Neutral from Buy with a $20 price target, down from $31 prior. The analyst cited his expectations for slowing volume growth for the company's core brands - Vivitrol in addiction and Aristada in schizophrenia - as well as a negative mix shift and net price headwinds. Gerberry also sees Alkermes' main pipeline assets still being a couple of years away from becoming value unlocking catalysts for the stock.
JPMorgan analyst Cory Kasimov downgraded Alkermes to Neutral from Overweight with a price target of $21, down from $25. The company's Q4 print and 2020 guidance were generally in-line, but its operating expenditure outlook was higher than anticipated, which is "somewhat surprising on the heels of a restructuring," Kasimov noted. Given the adverse market reaction to an overall unsurprising quarter, it's "increasingly clear that it's going to take more tangible progress to shift investor sentiment," contended the analyst. On that point, Kasimov does not see a trigger over the near-to-intermediate term, with 2020 "shaping up as a relatively quiet year." However, the analyst still thinks Alkermes is worth a closer look for longer term, value oriented investors.
CITI CUTS CF INDUSTRIES, MOSAIC, NUTRIEN: Citi analyst P.J. Juvekar downgraded CF Industries (CF) to Neutral from Buy with a price target of $43, down from $56, Mosaic (MOS) to Neutral from Buy with a price target of $21, down from $29, and Nutrien (NTR) to Neutral from Buy with a price target of $47, down from $61. The analyst cited high inventories and flatter cost curves for the downgrade. The impact of coronavirus seems negative for demand in China, Juvekar told investors in a research note. Chinese crop nutrient diammonium phosphate prices have hardly moved since the virus outbreak, the analyst pointed out. He prefers agriculture investors to focus on FMC Corporation (FMC), his top pick, and Corteva (CTVA).
SUNTRUST RAISES BIOXCEL PRICE TARGET SIXFOLD TO $150: Shares of BioXcel Therapeutics are soaring after SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Robyn Karnauskas more than sextupled her price target on the shares to $150 from $24. The rarely seen target quintuple came after the analyst did greater due diligence and added sales for opioid withdrawal, adjusted the company's dementia/schizophrenia/bipolar sales to more accurately reflect the market opportunity, and adjusted its operating expenses to more accurately reflect sales synergies and lower R&D costs. With two pivotal trials and two Phase 2 trials this year, "investors are missing how quickly these datasets will come and also how quickly the company can complete additional Phase 3 trials," Karnauskas tells investors. She believes the opioid withdrawal market represents a meaningful opportunity with 18% of 2M patients seeking treatment. The analyst models $1B in unadjusted peak sales with a 50% probability for BXCL501. Further, Karnauskas believes BioXcel's pivotal Phase 3 trials in schizophrenia/bipolar will be successful and launch in the second half of 2021. She models $1.5B in peak sales for dementia with 30% market penetration.
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