Here are the biggest calls on Wall Street on Thursday:
William Blair downgrading Biogen to 'market perform' from 'outperform'
William Blair downgraded Biogen because the Aducanumab trials were being discontinued due to an interim futility analysis determining the trials were unlikely to meet the primary endpoints.
"Before the markets opened on Thursday, March 21, Biogen announced the Phase III aducanumab trials were being discontinued due to an interim futility analysis determining the trials were unlikely to meet the primary endpoints... Aducanumab now joins a long list of Alzheimer's therapies that have failed to change the course of the disease, particularly those targeting beta-amyloid... Given the potential downside in Biogen's base business, including increased competition in the multiple sclerosis space, potential IPR challenge of Tecfidera's '514 patent, and impending competition in the spinal muscular atrophy market, we see potential for additional downside following the failure of Biogen's most important Phase III asset... We assume the stock will trade at a compressed multiple of roughly 8 to 10 times earnings based on the poor growth profile, and therefore at a range of $230 to $270 based on our 2019 EPS estimate of $27.58. Thus, we are downgrading shares to Market Perform...."
Needham upgrading Apple to 'strong buy' from 'buy'
Needham upgraded Apple on its valuation survey plus network effects.
"Upgrading AAPL to Strong Buy (from Buy) and raising our price target to $225 (from $180) owing to: a) AAPL's ecosystem value upside; b)conclusions from our proprietary survey data; c) content services AAPL will announce Monday; and d) AAPL's strong Network Effects..."
Citi raising price target on Apple to $220 from $170
Citi is staying positive on Apple and expects the company to raise its dividend and increase its buyback authorization.
"Despite dour sell side sentiment on Apple shares, we reiterate our Buy rating and we are also increasing our target price to $220 (market multiple shifts and lower discount) from $170 previously... We expect Apple to raise its dividend in April and increase its buyback authorization by another $100 billion while generating an estimated $60-65 billion of free cash flow each year as we look ahead... From a holdings perspective, Apple shares are no longer in the SP500 Growth Index Funds and have completely transitioned to being represented in the Value Index Fund yet in our marketing meetings, many growth investors have a negative view on the shares with short interest as a % of free float the highest it has ever been over the past 2 years...."
Goldman Sachs upgrading Qorvo to 'buy' from 'neutral'
Goldman Sachs upgraded Qorvo due to its smartphone stabilization, growing 5G infrastructure business, and margin expansion at a compelling valuation.
"We upgrade QRVO to Buy from Neutral with an updated 12-month price target of $79 which represents 14% potential upside. ..The ﬁve key pillars supporting our constructive view are, 1) smartphone unit stabilization: while we are not quite out of the woods yet, we are beginning to see early signs of smartphone unit stabilization with near-term upside in China offsetting marginal weakness at Apple, per our checks, 2) strength in 5G infrastructure: recent checks at Mobile World Congress suggest that 5G base station deployments are being pulled in and that strength is sustainable through 2020/2021 (note QRVO's base station business accounts for ~30% of Infrastructure and Defense Products segment sales or ~10% of total sales), 3) margin expansion opportunity: we believe management has room to improve gross margins and we note on their most recent earnings call they guided FY4Q (March) non GAAP gross margins to 47% (or 170bps below Street expectations ahead of the call) and FY1Q (June) to "below 46%". Importantly, we believe the ongoing restructuring initiatives (phased closure of Florida SAW ﬁlter facility+ delayed ramp of Farmers Branch BAW ﬁlter facility) coupled with other cost-cutting measures (introduction of Micro-BAW as well as improved dicing techniques) and better business mix stemming from above-average growth in the IDP business will drive an expansion in margins over the next 12-24 months, 4) robust FCF generation: we see FCF generation improving further in FY20/21 under the assumption that operating margins improve, working capital management remains disciplined and capex intensity is reduced, 5) compelling valuation: we believe current valuation multiples under-appreciate the top- and bottom-line growth potential of the company..."
Citi downgrading Micron to 'sell' from 'neutral'
Citi says Micron shares and estimates will remain under pressure after its earnings report.
"Yesterday after the close, Micron reported weak results and guided well below Consensus due to the memory crash and cut capex... While these are appropriate steps, we believe estimates and the stock should remain under pressure due to the DRAM crash... We lower estimates and downgrade to Sell.."
PiperJaffray upgrading ConocoPhillips to 'overweight' from 'neutral'
PiperJaffray says ConocoPhillips year to date performance reflects the spending risk
"COP had stellar performance in '18, but has lagged both IOC and large cap E&P peer averages YTD... We believe this is largely a function of concern over major project FIDs being contemplated this year... Project sanctions could put upward pressure on capital spending in an environment when investors are demanding discipline... That said, our modeling conservatively contemplates increased spending into '20, yet still reflects strong free cash generation at $60/Brent... Given the under performance and our conservative commodity assumptions ($60/Brent in '19/'20), we see ample upside to our target of $75/share (unchanged) and upgrade to Overweight... For context, $65/Brent would likely translate into a value of ~$80/share..."
Goldman Sachs adding Arista Networks to the 'conviction buy list'
Goldman Sachs sees significant upside potential to the stock and says Arista is one of the highest EPS growth profiles in its coverage.
"We add Arista to the Americas Conviction List and reiterate our Buy rating as we see signiﬁcant upside potential to consensus expectations driven by Arista's expansion into campus switching... Arista posted 31% topline growth in 2018 and management expressed comfort with the Street's 23% revenue growth forecast for 2019... With the stock trading at 31X our CY19E EPS, we believe investors are focused on the sustainability of 20%+ revenue growth in 2020-2021 and consensus appears to be modeling a deceleration to 18% by 2021... We believe Arista can deliver 23% or better revenue growth in 2020 and 2021 driven by its campus expansion representing 4%/6% of revenues, respectively, on what we view as relatively conservative assumptions... We continue to expect Arista to maintain its leading position in the data center switching market with solid potential for growth in enterprise and little impact from 400G in 2019/20... With one of the highest EPS growth proﬁles in our coverage, we see Arista's valuation as being at a discount to peers on a growth adjusted basis (1.3X PEG multiple vs. peer average 1.5X) and expect the stock to re-rate higher...We raise our 12-month price target to $360 from $300..."
Credit Suisse initiating Fox Corporation as 'outperform'
Credit Suisse says due to pricing power, the company will post the fastest revenue and EBITDA growth in media over the coming years.
"We expect accretive deployment of Fox's prodigious FCF (15 year tax shield, low capex, low working capital), primarily via share repurchases and TV station M&A... Despite a slow CY19 for Cable Network affiliate revenue growth (CSe +3.5%), we expect Fox will post the fastest revenue and EBITDA growth in Media the next few years, due to having pricing power over distributors and ~50% of its renewals the next two years, pus continued rapid Broadcast retransmission growth (~16% 3-year CAGR), the 2020 election cycle and potential cost efficiencies as they right size this new company... Of note, Fox's focus on news and sports moderates secular challenges, Fox has long-term sports contracts and is well-positioned for its NFL renewal, and is the least complex media company..."