Investment Analysts’ Downgrades for October, 17th (AMAT, APC, DVN, HPQ, IBN, MUR, NI, SLM, UGI, VSI)

Investment Analysts’ downgrades for Wednesday, October 17th:

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Applied Materials shares have underperformed the industry it belongs to in the past year. High fixed cost structure and customer concentration remain concerns. However, the company’s inflection-focused innovation strategy continued to be the primary growth driver. Further, technological advancements in semiconductor and display areas remain major positives. Additionally, robust 3D NAND, DRAM and patterning equipments are supporting the company in gaining momentum in the market. Moreover, the company remains confident on the growing investments from Chinese domestic manufacturers. We believe the emerging technologies and rising demand for Mobile OLEDs and large screen televisions will continue to drive its top-line growth.”

Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “In a year's time, shares of Anadarko Petroleum have outperformed its industry. Anadarko Petroleum’s premium shale properties, which include the Delaware and Denver-Julesburg basins, and the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico, are expected to be the primary production drivers. Its international assets are also contributing toward the increase in its total production. To focus on high-return assets and achieve capital efficiency, Anadarko Petroleum has been systematically selling its non-core properties. However, Anadarko has a few deep-water assets, which run the risks of adverse weather conditions. In addition, the modifications in laws and regulations, rising expenses and competition from major integrated oil companies pose risks to the stock.”

Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “In last six months, Devon Energy’s shares have outperformed its industry.  Devon Energy continues to benefit from strong performance in its Delaware and STACK assets, as well as high-quality domestic oil plays. Devon’s diversified portfolio, focus on high margin production zones, cost savings and divestment of non-core assets are boosting its performance. Thanks to solid oil production and the performance of its domestic oil players, the company is well poised to deliver a significant increase in U.S. oil production in 2018 from 2017 levels. However, the highly competitive nature of the oil and gas industry, limited control over some of its properties and stringent regulations are headwinds.”

HP (NYSE:HPQ) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “HP’s efforts to revive the business have been commendable. The company’s focus on innovation, pricing, and marketing and sales activities to trigger demand for its PC and Printing products in the market are apparently paying off. Rising demand for notebooks, desktops and workstations on the back of product innovation and differentiations is benefiting HP in the PC market. It should be noted that the recently-acquired Samsung’s printing business is helping the company in gaining market share in the $55-billion high-end copy-machine market. Nonetheless, the ongoing shift toward tablets and smartphone is a concern. Global trade environment and currency volatility remain other key challenges. Shares have underperformed the industry on a year-to-date basis.”

ICICI Bank (NYSE:IBN) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “ICICI Bank’s shares on the NYSE have outperformed the industry over the past six months. While the company remains well positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities, given the increased dependence on domestic loans, improving net interest margin and efforts to digitize operations, deteriorating asset quality continues to be a major headwind as it is likely to continue hurting financial performance in the near term. Moreover, mounting expenses due to continued investment in franchise will likely hamper bottom-line growth.”

Murphy Oil (NYSE:MUR) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong-buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “In a year's time, Murphy Oil’s shares have outperformed its industry. Murphy Oil’s strong upstream portfolio and ongoing capital investments will pave the way for long-term oil-focused production growth. The new low-cost finding will help the company to further expand onshore and offshore business. The company will benefit from stronger contribution from its Canadian assets. The company is pursuing steady E&P and development activities in the United States and other international locations. However, Murphy Oil operates in a highly competitive oil and gas industry that continues to create challenges for the company. Additionally, with operations outside the United States, the company is also subject to changes in foreign currency conversion rates, which may affect earnings from these oilfields. “

NiSource (NYSE:NI) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Year to date, shares of NiSource have lost wider than  its industry.  NiSource faces the risk of disruption in operation from its ageing infrastructure. Debt level is another concern amid the rising interest rates.NiSource reaffirmed capital investment guidance for 2018 and will continue to invest nearly $1.6-$1.8 billion annually in utility infrastructures for the next two years. The company projects long-term infrastructure investments worth $30 billion and continues to expand customer base. The company is also working actively to reduce its carbon footprint by bringing down the coal usage. NiSource has made considerable progress on regulatory initiatives across different states it operates. Despite investing in upgrade programs, the company faces the risk of disruption in operation from its ageing infrastructure. Debt level is another concern amid the rising interest rates. “

SLM (NASDAQ:SLM) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Sallie Mae have underperformed the industry over the past three months. Estimates have been stable lately ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. Further, the company doesn’t have an impressive earnings surprise history, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in two of the trailing four quarters. Persistent increase in expenses remains a major near-term concern for the company. Further, as it intends to increase investments in technology, operating costs are expected to be elevated in the upcoming quarters. Also, Sallie Mae faces concentration risks due to over dependence on brokered deposits. However, the company’s focus on strengthening its Private Education Loan assets, improving economic and declining unemployment rate bode well for the long term.”

UGI (NYSE:UGI) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “In the past year, shares of UGI Corporation have outperformed its industry. The company is poised to benefit from long-term investment plans, aimed at strengthening its existing businesses and expand its presence in the global markets. The company has invested billion to address the infrastructural need while growing its customer base for various capital projects and acquisition in order to curb competition and to increase safety and reliability of its natural gas production and storage facilities. Also, several acquisitions and mergers completed by UGI Corporation are accretive to earnings. However, the company fulfills its propane requirement from a limited number of suppliers with fixed-price contracts and any disruption in the supply of propane will affect its business and profitability. Also, rising interest rate is a headwind as it would raise the cost of procuring funds.”

Vitamin Shoppe (NYSE:VSI) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Vitamin Shoppe is a specialty retailer and direct marketer of nutritional products. It primarily sells vitamins, minerals, nutritional supplements, herbs, sports nutrition formulas, homeopathic remedies, green living products and health and beauty aids. Based in North Bergen, New Jersey, the company is recognized as an innovator in providing product information, associate training, and customer education. Information is available to consumers through unprecedented outlets including television, radio, friends, family, health practitioners, and the internet. It offers consumers the opportunity to take charge of their own health and wellness requirements, and supplement where necessary. At each store location, consumers can find a comprehensive Learning Center which offers free access to vital information about key health concerns and products. The Vitamin Shoppe is a strong supporter of health and wellness campaigns including Life Supplemented sponsored by the Council for Responsible Nutrition. “

Viad (NYSE:VVI) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Viad Corp is an S&P SmallCap 600 international experiential services company with operations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, continental Europe and the United Arab Emirates. Viad generates its revenue and shareholder value through two main business units: GES, a global full-service live events company serving the world’s leading brands and event organizers and Pursuit, a collection of iconic and cultural destination travel experiences that showcase the best of Banff, Jasper, Glacier, Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks. Their business strategy focuses on providing exceptional experiential services to their customers and sustainable returns on invested capital to their shareholders. “

Select Energy Services (NYSE:WTTR) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong sell rating. According to Zacks, “Select Energy Services, Inc. is a provider of water solutions to the U.S. unconventional oil and gas industry. It offers drilling and completion activities associated with hydraulic fracturing as well as complementary water-related services which support oil and gas well completion and production activities including containment, monitoring, treatment, flowback, hauling and disposal. Select Energy Services, Inc. is headquartered in Gainesville, Texas. “

Wolverine World Wide (NYSE:WWW) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Wolverine’s shares have surpassed the industry in the past six months, buoyed by robust earnings trend. Markedly, during second-quarter 2018, the company’s earnings surpassed the consensus mark and surged from the prior-year quarter’s level, owing to improved gross and operating margins. Incidentally, the continued strength in bottom-line performance propelled management to raise earnings view for 2018. Further, the company has also been progressing well with its GLOBAL GROWTH AGENDA, which focuses on empowering brands through innovation, implementing advanced digital tools and expanding into new markets. Despite such efforts, the company’s top line has been dismal since the past four quarters, due to change in quarterly calendars, negative impacts of store closures and portfolio changes. Moreover, the company is exposed to significant currency risks stemming from international markets.”

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