Analysts’ Upgrades for January, 11th (ABMD, AFL, AKRX, ATRA, AXP, BANF, BEN, BIDU, BLK, BOKF)

Analysts’ upgrades for Thursday, January 11th:

ABIOMED (NASDAQ:ABMD) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a hold rating to a buy rating.

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Aflac shares have outperformed the industry in a year's time. The company will invest $250 million in different growth benefiting from the easy tax regime. Efforts to increase agent productivity, emphasis on sale of third-sector products, pull back on sale of first-sector products, and the introduction of new products are likely to drive long-term growth. Its strong capital position enables it to buy back shares and increase dividend payouts. Its U.S segment continues to perform strongly and will continue as company has undertaken a number of growth initiatives in this business. A favorable earnings guidance against the back drop of continued challenges in its Japan business instills our confidence in the company. Nevertheless, persistent low interest rates in Japan have put pressure on revenue growth from the region. Also branch conversion cost might drain margins to some extent.”

Akorn (NASDAQ:AKRX) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a strong sell rating to a sell rating.

Atara Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ:ATRA) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a hold rating to a buy rating.

American Express (NYSE:AXP) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $113.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of American Express have outperformed the industry in a year's time. The company continues to witness strong loan growth and credit metrics, plus lower operating costs. A solid market position, strength in card business and significant opportunities from the secular shift toward electronic payments are growth drivers. Strategic initiatives focusing on the platinum card portfolio and the OptBlue program will drive business volume. Cost reduction and return of significant capital to shareholders through dividend and share buyback are also positives. However, an increase in provision for losses, high rewards expense and cost of card member services are some of the headwinds. American Express  will likely incur nearly $2.4 billion charges in fourth-quarter 2017 from tax reform, which will cause its 2017 earnings to fall short of its guided range of $5.80-$5.90 per share.”

BancFirst (NASDAQ:BANF) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a strong sell rating to a sell rating.

Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $49.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Franklin Resources underperformed the industry over the past six months. However, the company surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in three of the trailing four quarters. We remain optimistic as strategic acquisitions and solid distribution platform have well positioned the company for growth. Further, management continues with cost-control measures. Also, its involvement in steady capital deployment activities boosts shareholders’ confidence. However, volatile markets and unfavorable global economic conditions may affect the company’s performance and hurt profitability.”

Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating. The firm currently has $614.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “BlackRock’s shares have outperformed the industry, in the past six months. This performance is supported by impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. The company is undertaking initiatives to restructure its actively managed equities business with an aim to meet changing client needs. These along with technological changes and its efforts to expand globally via acquisitions will further help top-line growth going forward. However, mounting expenses mainly due to continued rise in marketing costs is likely to hurt the bottom-line growth.”

BOK Financial (NASDAQ:BOKF) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating. They currently have $108.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of BOK Financial have outperformed the industry over the past six months. The company has a decent earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in two of the trailing four quarters. We believe the diverse revenue mix and favorable geographic footprint will support growth in the upcoming quarters. The company's continuous expansion via acquisitions is also expected to aid top-line growth. Moreover, increasing loan balances and easing margin pressure are positives. However, consistently mounting costs remain a near-term headwind. Also, significant exposure toward brokerage and trading revenues amid challenging trading environment is a major concern.”

First Busey (NASDAQ:BUSE) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a hold rating to a buy rating.

CoStar Group (NASDAQ:CSGP) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a hold rating to a buy rating.

First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FNLC) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a strong sell rating to a sell rating.

Green Bancorp (NASDAQ:GNBC) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

Haynes International (NASDAQ:HAYN) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

Hancock (NASDAQ:HBHC) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a hold rating to a buy rating.

IHS Markit (NASDAQ:INFO) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating.

MB Financial (NASDAQ:MBFI) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

Martin Midstream Partners (NASDAQ:MMLP) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a strong sell rating to a sell rating.

NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating.

OceanFirst Financial (NASDAQ:OCFC) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

O'Reilly Automotive (NASDAQ:ORLY) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

PCSB Financial (NASDAQ:PCSB) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) was upgraded by analysts at Citigroup Inc from a sell rating to a buy rating.

Penn Virginia (NASDAQ:PVAC) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a hold rating to a buy rating.

Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

Resources Connection (NASDAQ:RECN) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a hold rating to a buy rating.

Boston Beer (NYSE:SAM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $221.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Boston Beer, which has outperformed the industry in last three months, posted solid third-quarter 2017 with both earnings and sales surpassing estimates. While this was the company’s fourth-straight earnings beat, sales topped estimates for the second-consecutive quarter. Earnings gained from enhanced gross margin and lower operating costs owing to cost saving initiatives. We remain encouraged by Boston Beer’s three-point growth plan focused on revival of Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard brands, cost-saving initiatives and long-term innovation. The company's focus on pricing, product innovation and brand development are also likely to boost operational performance and market position. Moreover, the company’s brand-building efforts and initiatives to add new products remain key revenue drivers. However, results continue to be hurt by soft depletion trends owing to weakness in Samuel Adams, soft craft beer and cider categories.”

Strongbridge Biopharma (NASDAQ:SBBP) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating.

Superior Drilling Products (NYSEAMERICAN:SDPI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $1.50 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Superior Drilling Products, Inc. operates as a manufacturer and remanufacturer of PDC (polycrystalline diamond compact) drill bits and drill string tools for the oil, natural gas and mining services industries. It also provides manufacturing, leasing, and refurbishing of drill string tools to oil field services clients. Superior Drilling Products, Inc. is based in United States. “

SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE:SEAS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is a theme park and entertainment company operating primarily in the United States. The company owns and operates U.S. theme parks, including the popular SeaWorld(R), Busch Gardens(R) and Sesame Place(R) brands. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is headquartered in Orlando, Florida. “

Schroders (OTCMKTS:SHNWF) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $55.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Schroders plc is an asset management company. It manages on behalf of institutional, retail investors, financial institutions and high net worth clients. The company operates primarily in Europe, Asia, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. Schroders plc is headquartered in London, United Kingdom. “

Siemens (OTCMKTS:SIEGY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “SIEMENS AG-ADR is the world’s largest supplier of products, systems, solutions and services for industrial automation and building technology. This business area includes Automation and Drives Industrial Solutions and Services Siemens Dematic Siemens Building Technologies AG. “

SkyWest (NASDAQ:SKYW) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating. The firm currently has $57.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “SkyWest, Inc. is the holding company for two scheduled passenger airline operations and an aircraft leasing company. SkyWest’s airline companies provide commercial air service in cities throughout North America with nearly 3,000 daily flights carrying more than 53 million passengers annually. SkyWest Airlines operates through partnerships with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. ExpressJet Airlines operates through partnerships with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. Based in St. George, Utah, SkyWest continues to set the standard for excellence across the regional industry with unmatched value for customers, shareholders and its nearly 17,000 employees. “

Smiths Group (OTCMKTS:SMGZY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Smiths Group plc is a technology company. The Company designs, manufactures and delivers products and services for the threat & contraband detection, medical devices, energy and communications market. Its operating segment consists John Crane sector provides mechanical seals, seal support systems, engineered bearings, power transmission couplings and specialist filtration systems, Smiths Medical sector provides infusion systems, vascular access, patient airway and temperature management equipment and specialty devices. Smiths Detection sector provides sensors that detect and identify explosives, narcotics, weapons, chemical agents, biohazards and contraband; Smiths Interconnect sector provides specialised electronic and radio frequency components and sub-systems that connect, protect and control critical systems; Flex-Tek division provides engineered components that heat and move fluids and gases, flexible hosing and rigid tubing. Smiths Group plc is headquartered in London, the United Kingdom. “

Semtech (NASDAQ:SMTC) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

China Petroleum & Chemical (NYSE:SNP) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating. They currently have $93.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Through its refinery business, Sinopec has been able to withstand the crude price weakness to a large extent. We appreciate Sinopec’s large-scale oil discoveries, especially in the Shengli field and Junggar Basin, which will support long-term production.  Also, declining long-term debt load along with a rapidly rising cash balance reflect balance sheet strength. The first nine months of 2017 saw a modest recovery of the global economy as well as GDP growth of 6.9% in the Chinese economy. Sinopec’s dividend yield is also impressive and higher than that of the industry. The company gives emphasis to building production capacity, improving operational organization and growing output. Hence, the business scenario looks favorable and Sinopec is well positioned to capitalize on the opportunity.”

Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure (NYSE:SOI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $26.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure, Inc. manufactures and provides patented mobile proppant management systems which unload, store and deliver proppant at oil and natural gas well sites and its systems are deployed in many of the most active oil and natural gas basins in the United States, including the Permian Basin, the Eagle Ford Shale and the SCOOP/STACK formation. Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure, Inc. is based in Houston, United States. “

Del Taco Restaurants (NASDAQ:TACO) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

Triumph Bancorp (NASDAQ:TBK) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a strong sell rating to a sell rating.

Trustmark (NASDAQ:TRMK) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

Union Bankshares (NASDAQ:UBSH) was upgraded by analysts at BidaskClub from a sell rating to a hold rating.

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