Equities Research Analysts’ Upgrades for February, 15th (ACA, ADI, CLI, ECA, FUJIY, HOLX, IPG, MET, MRVL, POT)

Equities Research Analysts’ upgrades for Wednesday, February 15th:

Acacia Mining PLC (LON:ACA) was upgraded by analysts at Numis Securities Ltd to a  buy rating. The firm currently has GBX 600 ($7.50) target price on the stock, up from their previous target price of GBX 500 ($6.25).

Analog Devices (NASDAQ:ADI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $87.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Analog Devices is a leading supplier of analog and DSP integrated circuits. Its fiscal fourth quarter earnings were above the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Over the last one year, the stock has underperformed the Zacks characterised Semi-Analog and Mixed Industry. Management sounded upbeat on the company’s progress toward closure of the Linear Technology acquisition. It is expected to make Analog Devices an industry leader across a huge range of products, customer breadth and scale. Though we remain concerned about weakness in the consumer market, ADI is solidly positioned in growth markets like industrial, auto and communication. Also its products continue to see very strong deployment in the emerging automotive market.”

Mack-Cali Realty Corporation (NYSE:CLI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $31.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Mack-Cali outperformed the Zacks categorized REIT and Equity Trust – Other industry over the past one year. The company remains focused on its 20/15 strategic plan. This plan is aimed at transforming the company by focusing on waterfront and transit-based office holdings, and on luxury multi-family portfolio growth as well. It also includes planned exits from non-core markets, capital improvements in core assets, lower expenses in office operations and reduction in credit costs through refinancing options. In fact, in a recent announcement about its 2016 and year-to-date 2017 capital market activities, the company has revealed solid progress on its portfolio transforming plans. Such efforts and diversification into the apartment sector are likely to drive growth and improve cash flow. However, earnings-dilutive effects of disposition in the near term and hike in rate of interest remain concerns.”

Encana Corporation (NYSE:ECA) (TSE:ECA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $14.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Buoyed by a slew of positive developments, we are maintaining our positive investment thesis on Encana. The Canadian energy behemoth – which posted a surprise operating profit in the Sep quarter on the back of reduced drilling costs and solid execution – holds one of the largest natural gas resource portfolios in North America. As such, the company is set to benefit from the commodity's recent price strength. Additionally, the steps undertaken by Encana to divest high-cost low-profit gas assets will increase its financial flexibility and fund the transition to a more diversified oil and gas firm. Finally, the recent equity offering will help it lower debt levels, apart from supporting more number of rigs in the Permian basin, where Encana is a top tier operator. Therefore, notwithstanding the stock's impressive run in the past 6 months, we believe that ECA offers more upside for investors going ahead.”

Fujifilm Holdings Corp. (OTCMKTS:FUJIY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Over the last one month, Fujifilm's shares underperformed the Zacks categorized Photo Equipment & Supplies industry. In third-quarter fiscal 2017, the company's aggregate revenues totaled ¥582 billion, down 5.4% year over year. Appreciation of the Japanese Yen, sluggish economic status of several emerging markets, Brexit-related political issues in Europe and intense competition, have been hampering its financial fundamentals. However, the company firmly believes that it would be able to boost near-term financial fundamentals on the back of its VISION 2016 plan, strategic innovations, lucrative acquisitions and new marketing programs.”

Hologic (NDAQ:HOLX) was upgraded by analysts at Needham & Company LLC from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $46.00 price target on the stock.

Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (The) (NYSE:IPG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $27.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Interpublic reported healthy fourth-quarter 2016 results with adjusted earnings comfortably beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by $0.09. Its impressive results were driven by higher revenues owing to solid performances across all geographic regions as well as successful cost streamlining initiatives. The company expects to leverage new business wins to improve its future growth prospects. Interpublic’s digital capabilities, diversified business model and geographic reach offer a distinctive competitive advantage to its clients. The company hiked its quarterly dividend by 20% year over year to $0.18 per share. At the same time, it authorized a new share repurchase program to repurchase up to $300 million of common stock to reward its shareholders with healthy risk-adjusted returns.  However, constrained marketing budgets from big clients are expected to slow down organic growth and lead to account loss headwinds for Interpublic.”

MetLife (NYSE:MET) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “MetLife's earnings of $1.35 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny and increased 1.5% year over year. The company remains exposed to headwinds like adverse foreign exchange, taxes, regulatory uncertainty surrounding its SIFI designation, and stiff competition. Nevertheless, its consistent inorganic growth via acquisitions and divestitures allow it to focus on core growth areas, which in turn, have been paving the way for long-term success. The separation of the its retail unit will reduce its risk exposure to equity and interest rates. The company’s ongoing efforts to reduce expenses will cushion its bottom line in the long term. In addition, the company maintains a diversified business mix and is one of the strongest brands in the world. Its strong balance sheet, improved cash balance and lower debt level are other positives.”

Marvell Technology Group (NASDAQ:MRVL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $17.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Marvell  is a fabless designer, developer and marketer of analog, mixed-signal and digital signal processing integrated circuits. A look at Marvell’s one year price performance shows that the company has outperformed the Zacks categorized Semiconductor-Communications industry. We believe that the strong demand for Marvell’s 4G LTE products will drive growth. This will be supported by growth from the company’s wide range of newly-launched Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Going forward, the company’s recent restructuring initiative will benefit Marvell to improve cloud infrastructure and applications, which are expected to drive the company’s top line. The latest buyback scheme also reflects the company’s sound financial position and favorable prospects. However, competition in the semiconductor market from major players such as Intel and Texas Instruments remains a headwind.”

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (NYSE:POT) (TSE:POT) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Potash Corp.’s earnings and sales for fourth-quarter 2016 missed the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate. Potash Corp. has underperformed the Zacks categorized Fertilizers industry over a year. The company remains exposed to a weak pricing environment. Weak potash and nitrogen prices are expected to continue to hurt the company's results moving ahead. Potash Corp. also faces challenging agriculture market fundamentals and headwinds associated with weakness across specific consumer markets including Brazil. Moreover, soft agricultural commodity prices continue to affect the fertilizer industry. However, Potash Corp. will benefit from expanded operational capability and improved demand for potash. The proposed merger with Agrium is also expected to create significant cost and operational synergies.”

Patterson-UTI Energy (NASDAQ:PTEN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $33.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Currently trading near its 52-week high, Patterson-UTI shares has been comfortably outperforming the Zacks categorized 'Oil & Gas Drilling' industry over the past 1 year. The company's large, high-quality fleet of drilling rigs – especially the technologically advanced ‘Apex’ ones – are the key to its success. We believe Patterson-UTI's impending acquisition of smaller rival Seventy Seven Energy will bolster its scale and customer base, while helping to enhance its geographic footprint to most active basins in the U.S.  Moreover, with the significant advancement of crude oil from their 12-year lows reached in last February, producers are likely to revive spending on drilling activities that would spur rig count. This, in turn, will result in improved demand for oilfield equipments, thereby driving Patterson-UTI's revenues, earnings and cash flow.”

Republic Services (NYSE:RSG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $65.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Republic Services has outperformed the industry in the last three months and has raised the guidance for 2016 on healthy growth dynamics. The company is focused on enhancing its operations by streamlining the cost structure, improving revenue quality and seeking growth through profitable investment opportunities. Republic Services has also realigned its field support functions by combining two organizational layers and expects to save about $25 million annually from 2018. The company has a positive earnings history in the trailing four quarters, while estimates have remained steady in the last 30 days. In addition, the company has also historically promulgated a conservative balance sheet with a healthy liquidity position. However, it remains exposed to commodity price headwinds and protracted weakness in special waste, industrial volumes and tight municipal budgets, which will likely have a negative impact on earnings.”

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