Intel shares jump after Morgan Stanley upgrades the stock and predicts a big rally

  • Morgan Stanley upgrades Intel to overweight from equal weight and hikes its price target on the stock to $64 per share from $55.
  • "We think that Intel can rerate higher around a more financially oriented CEO," analyst Joseph Moore says.
Bob Swan, interim chief executive officer and chief financial officer of Intel Corp., reacts during the inauguration of the company's research and development facility in Bengaluru, India, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.
Samyukta Lakshmi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Bob Swan, interim chief executive officer and chief financial officer of Intel Corp., reacts during the inauguration of the company's research and development facility in Bengaluru, India, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

Investors should buy Intel shares as they could get a boost from CEO Bob Swan's leadership, a Morgan Stanley analyst said Friday.

Analyst Joseph Moore upgraded Intel to overweight from equal weight and hiked his price target on the stock to $64 per share from $55. Moore's new price target represents 24 percent upside from Thursday's close of $51.41 per share. Intel traded about 3 percent higher in the premarket Friday.

"We think that Intel can rerate higher around a more financially oriented CEO," Moore said in a note to clients. "While some investors wanted someone with more of a technology background, we think that one of Intel's biggest challenges in recent years has been its tendency to become enamored with technology over economics."

Swan was Intel's interim CEO for seven months after Brian Krzanich was ousted last year for having a "consensual relationship" with an employee. Prior to that, Swan had been Intel's CFO since 2016.

Intel shares are up 9.55 percent this year through Thursday's close but are lagging competitors like Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices. Nvidia's stock is up more than 16 percent in 2019 while AMD has surged nearly 30 percent.

"With a better portfolio optimization process, framing those technology issues around business risk/reward, a mindset of optimizing free cash flow more than earnings, and a higher standard of M&A accretion, we see the multiple expanding from 12x to 14x in our base case," Moore said. "While we are cautious on semiconductors, and Intel is not immune, these idiosyncratic opportunities set them apart."

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