Analysts’ Downgrades for February, 13th (ABX, AEE, AIMC, AVB, CTL, DUK, ESS, NOK, PSTI, SNY)

Analysts’ downgrades for Monday, February 13th:

Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX) (TSE:ABX) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Barrick is exposed to a volatile gold pricing environment. Moreover, the company continues to see pressure on its top line. Lower expected gold production (on a year over year basis) could weigh on its sales in 2016. The company's falling gold reserve base is another concern. Barrick is also facing headwinds due to a sluggish recovery in Europe. However, Barrick has outperformed the Zacks categorized Mining-Gold industry over a year.”

Ameren Corporation (NYSE:AEE) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Ameren Corp. follows a systematic investment strategy, primarily for growth projects and infrastructure upgrade, which enables it to provide reliable services to its customers, besides meeting increasing demand. Under the Modernization Action Plan, the company has adopted initiatives that will enable it to provide reliable services to its customers, besides meeting increasing demand. Systematic asset divestment programs allow the company to focus on its regulated business. Moreover, the company outperformed the Zacks Categorized Utility-Electric Power industry in the last one year. However, increasing stringency of government regulations to ensure clean power generation remains a major concern. Again, operational risks and fluctuations in commodity price might hinder growth in the future.”

Altra Industrial Motion Corp. (NASDAQ:AIMC) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong-buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Over the last one month, Altra Industrial's shares outperformed the Zacks categorized Machinery General Industrial industry. Also, we believe that the company holds solid potential for organic and inorganic growth in the long run. Also, Stromag acquisition will start yielding earnings benefits in 2017. In addition, the company is progressing well on its restructuring and cost-saving strategies.  Rewarding shareholders with dividends and share buybacks remain a priority.  However, the company is exposed to risks arising from stiff competition, high costs, and forex woes. For 2016 (results not yet released), the company anticipates soft conditions to persist in its end-markets. The company has narrowed its guidance for 2016, with sales now expected within $705-$715 million.”

AvalonBay Communities (NYSE:AVB) was downgraded by analysts at Zelman & Associates from a hold rating to a sell rating.

CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong sell rating. According to Zacks, “CenturyLink posted weak financial results in the fourth quarter of 2016. Also, shares of CenturyLink lagged the Zacks classified Wireless National industry’s gain over the past three months. Moreover, loss in access lines, reducing legacy voice services revenues, declining subsidy payments by the Federal Universal Service Fund, tough competition, federal regulations and the need to upgrade technology are other risks. Inspite of these headwinds, the company is focused on establishing itself as a global leader in cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions arena for enterprise customers. Further,  the growing momentum of CenturyLink’s Prism IPTV service has prompted it to plan the launch of its  over the top (OTT) services in 2017. The deal to purchase Level 3 Communications bodes well. The combined entity will be a formidable entity in the fiber-based metro-Ethernet and Internet backbone market.”

Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE:DUK) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Duke Energy underperformed the Zacks Categorized Utility-Electric Power industry over the last one year as the company’s international business has been performing poorly, of late, owing to economic distress prevalent in Brazil as well as unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates. Moreover,stringent environmental regulations, pending regulatory cases, volatile commodity prices, severe weather patterns and foreign exchange risks may hinder Duke Energy’s performance. Adverse outcome from pending regulatory cases may also negatively impact Duke Energy’s earnings. Nevertheless, being a premier utility service provider, Duke Energy continues to invest in infrastructure and expansion projects.”

Essex Property Trust (NYSE:ESS) was downgraded by analysts at Zelman & Associates from a hold rating to a sell rating.

Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Nokia have underperperformed the broader industry over the last one year. This is mainly due to the below-par performance of its primary division– the Networks unit. The company expects net sales in its networks division to decline in 2017 due to the declining wireless infrastructure market, among other headwinds. In the fourth quarter the segment saw a 14% decline in revenues. Weak sales in Mobile Networks, which is part of Ultra Broadband Networks, contributed to the significant decline in the final quarter of 2016 . Moreover, since the company operates globally its top line is vulnerable to adverse foreign currency movements. However, we are encouraged by the company's growth-by-acquisition strategy.”

Pluristem Therapeutics (NASDAQ:PSTI) was downgraded by analysts at Maxim Group from a buy rating to a hold rating.

Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Sanofi’s fourth quarter 2016 revenues increased year over year while earnings declined as higher sales were offset by higher operating costs and taxes. Importantly, the appeals court’s decision to allow Sanofi/Regeneron to continue selling Praluent while the litigation continues marks a temporary relief for the company. Sanofi’s shares have outperformed the large-cap pharma industry this year so far. Its focus on streamlining its business and pursuing business development deals is encouraging. Meanwhile, Sanofi has several new products in its portfolio and candidates in its pipeline that can contribute to long-term growth. New drugs like Toujeo, Aubagio and Lemtrada are likely to continue doing well. However, headwinds include a bleak outlook for the Diabetes franchise, generic competition for many drugs and slower-than-expected uptake of new products like Praluent.”

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Tesla has been outperforming the Zacks categorized Automotive-Domestic industry over the last three months. However, the company missed its delivery guidance for 2016. The company also faces several headwinds, including high expenses and production constraints. Further, SolarCity’s high debt and cash outflows are concerns, although the buyout is expected to provide integration benefits.”

United Dominion Realty Trust (NYSE:UDR) was downgraded by analysts at Zelman & Associates from a hold rating to a sell rating.

ZELTIQ Aesthetics (NASDAQ:ZLTQ) was downgraded by analysts at Piper Jaffray Companies from an overweight rating to a neutral rating.

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