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Equity Brief: Ratings Changes for November 15th: FANG, FCFS, FRC, GRA, H, HAL, HAR, HD, HES

A number of stocks were upgraded and downgraded by equities research analysts today, as reported by Analyst Ratings Network (http://bit.ly/equitybriefdaily) and Equity Brief:C.K. Cooper initiated coverage on shares of Diamondback Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FANG). They issued a buy rating on the stock and...

A number of stocks were upgraded and downgraded by equities research analysts today, as reported by Analyst Ratings Network (http://bit.ly/equitybriefdaily) and Equity Brief:

C.K. Cooper initiated coverage on shares of Diamondback Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FANG). They issued a buy rating on the stock and set a $26.00 price target.

Sterne Agee upgraded shares of First Cash Financial Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCFS) from a neutral rating to a buy rating. Sterne Agee now has a $50.00 price target on the stock. They wrote, "Through acquisitions and new store openings, the company has increased its store count by 19% during the first nine months of this year to 810 (66% in Mexico/34% US) and laid the groundwork for a successful 2013. The company has reversed the decline in pawn loan balances in its Mexican border stores (+15% in 3Q12) and lessened its dependence on scrapping (down to 10% of net revenue in 3Q12). Integrating/fine-tuning acquired stores (44 in the US, 29 in Mexico) and harvesting the growth of new stores (66) opened during 2012 should result in 2013 being a year of 18%+ EPS growth."

Evercore Partners initiated coverage on shares of First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC). They issued an overweight rating on the stock.

Macquarie initiated coverage on shares of W.R. Grace & Co. (NYSE: GRA). They issued a neutral rating on the stock and set a $73.00 price target.

Nomura lowered its price target on shares of Hyatt Hotels (NYSE: H) to $40.00. They wrote, "We are lowering our earnings outlook on Hyatt for 4Q12E and 2013E owing to lower RevPAR and margins; 4Q to +3.7% from +6.5% and 2013 RevPAR declines to 4.4% from 6.1%. In 4Q, Hurricane Sandy will remove ~ 200bp of RevPAR and $6m of EBITDA. Our 2013E EBITDA declines to $657m from $753m, which reduces our target price to $40 from $46. On our revised estimates H trades at 10.5x 2012E and 9.4x 2013E EV/EBITDA, roughly 100bp below its peer group (MAR, HOT, CHH and HST)."

Credit Agricole upgraded shares of Halliburton (HAL) from an underperform rating to a buy rating. Credit Agricole now has a $38.00 price target on the stock.

Wells Fargo & Co. initiated coverage on shares of Harman International Industries Inc. (HAR). They issued a market perform rating on the stock.

UBS AG raised their EPS estimates on shares of Home Depot (HD). They now have a buy rating and a $70.00 price target on the stock. They previously had issued a $68.00 price target.

Zacks reiterated its neutral rating on shares of Hess Corp (HES). They have a $52.00 price target on the stock. Zacks' analyst wrote, "We are maintaining our Neutral recommendation on Hess shares following its third quarter 2012 results. In the quarter, the company's earnings and revenue both increased from the last year, mainly on account of higher oil output. Moreover, strong growth throughout the Bakken oil shale play, along with robust holdings in the Eagle Ford Shale and the Utica Shale, are expected to lift Hess' earnings, cash flow and valuation. The company asset divestiture program is also likely to reduce its financing needs. However, we believe that future asset sales will likely hamper the company's production and bring down its profitability levels. Considering these aspects, we expect the stock to perform in line with other industry players and the broader market."

Piper Jaffray upgraded shares of Hot Topic Inc (HOTT) from a neutral rating to an overweight rating. Piper Jaffray now has a $11.00 price target on the stock. They wrote, "We are upgrading shares of HOTT from Neutral to Overweight based on attractive valuation, increased confidence in estimates, and a shift in our investment rationale from recovery to growth. On its Q3 report, the company detailed accelerated square footage growth plans for 2013, which was the catalyst we were seeking to revisit our thesis. In addition, margin initiatives are taking hold at a faster pace than initially modeled, lending to further profitability expansion. We expect a series of Street interactions over the next few months to add to visibility and confidence in underlying operating stability and growth."

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