Investment Analysts’ Upgrades for May, 15th (ADI, ALLY, CBSH, CUZ, EFX, LVS, MA, ORCL, QSR, SBUX)

Investment Analysts’ upgrades for Wednesday, May 15th:

Analog Devices (NASDAQ:ADI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Analog Devices stock has outperformed the industry it belongs to in the past one year. The company continues to benefit from its strength across industrial, automotive and communications markets. Further, the company is currently riding on positive contributions from Linear Technology acquisition. Estimates have been stable lately ahead of the company’s fiscal Q2 earnings release. The company has positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. However, the results continues to be impacted by weakness in the consumer end market. Also, declining usage of the company’s products in portable consumer applications is a major headwind. Moreover, macro uncertainty and geopolitical fears remain concerns. Further, rising competitive pressure from Maxim and Texas Instruments poses serious threat to the company’s market position.”

Ally Financial (NYSE:ALLY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $33.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Ally Financial have outperformed the industry over the past six months. The company’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing four quarters. The company’s first-quarter 2019 results benefited from growth in revenues, partly offset by higher expenses and provisions. Initiatives to diversify revenue base, rise in consumer loan demand, higher interest rates and growth in net finance revenues will likely further support the company’s profitability. While mounting expenses (mainly due to expansion strategy) and the use of high debt remain major near-term concerns for the company and will likely hurt financials, its steady capital deployment actions reflect strong balance sheet position. This will continue to enhance shareholder value.”

Commerce Bancshares (NASDAQ:CBSH) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Commerce Bancshares have outperformed the industry in the past three months. The company’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. Its first-quarter 2019 results were hurt by an increase in expenses and higher provision for loan losses. Impressive loan and deposit balances, higher interest rates, efforts to grow fee income and strong balance sheet position will continue supporting the company's profitability. Moreover, given a solid capital position, it is expected to continue enhancing shareholder value through efficient capital deployment activities. However, steadily mounting operating expenses are likely to hamper bottom-line growth to some extent. Moreover, the company's exposure to risky loan portfolios remains a near-term concern and this might hurt financials.”

Cousins Properties (NYSE:CUZ) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Cousins Properties have outperformed its industry over the past six months. The company’s properties located in premium Sun-Belt markets have enabled it to enjoy robust rent growth and boosted its top-line performance during first-quarter 2019. Also, in March, Cousins Properties announced plans to merge with TIER REIT that will improve market scale and enable it to realize operational and leasing synergies. Going forward, a disciplined balance sheet with ample liquidity will enable it to leverage on improving market fundamentals and raise operational efficiency. However, it is witnessing higher construction activity at its markets. This is expected to increase supply of office properties, resulting in lesser scope for rent and occupancy growth. Further, a significant development pipeline increases operational risks and exposes the company to rising construction costs.”

Equifax (NYSE:EFX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Equifax reported mixed first-quarter 2019 results, with earnings beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate but revenues missing the same. Shares of the company have outperformed its industry year to date. Equifax’s offerings are of great importance to its customers as they use the credit information and related analytical services. We believe that a solid product portfolio and a clear understanding of the business services sector will keep Equifax improve its top line. The company has been active in strategic acquisitions and forming joint ventures to expand its business internationally. However, Equifax continues to bear the brunt of higher costs as it has increased its spending on technology after the last year's cyber-attack. Seasonality affects the company's revenue streams. High debt may limit the future expansion and worsen its risk profile.”

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $70.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Las Vegas Sands have outperformed the industry so far this year. Increased revenues at casino, rooms and mall drove the company’s top line in first-quarter 2019. It generated solid revenues from Macao operations as well. In the next couple of years, the company is likely to spend $2 billion in Macao. To strengthen the resort portfolio, Las Vegas Sands is focusing on expanding the Four Seasons Tower Suites Macao, St. Regis Tower Suites Macao and the Londoner Macao. Planned investment in new capital projects in Macao and higher revenues from The Parisian Macao are also likely to drive growth. Las Vegas Sands’ consistent focus on a convention-based Integrated Resort business model is an added positive. Nevertheless, high debt and competition are worrisome. Estimates for the current year have witnessed upward revisions in the past 30 days.”

Mastercard (NYSE:MA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $275.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Mastercard’s stock has outperformed the industry in a year's time. The company is poised for growth, given its solid market position, ongoing expansion and digital initiatives, and opportunities from the shift toward electronic payments. Its numerous acquisitions have aided revenue growth. Mastercard’s earnings of $1.78 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.66 and was up 18.7% year over year. Solid results were led by higher switched transactions, increase in cross-border volume and gross dollar volume, and gains from acquisitions, partly offset by an increase in rebates and incentives. However, escalating costs will put pressure on margins. Also, in order to gain customers and new business, Mastercard has been incurring quite high levels of costs under rebates and incentives, which remains a concern. Nevertheless, its strong balance sheet enables business investment, thereby driving growth.”

Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $61.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Oracle is benefiting from strong adoption of its cloud-based solutions, comprising NetSuite, Fusion ERP and Fusion HCM, among others. We note that partnerships with the likes of Accenture are helping the company rapidly expand its cloud-base clientele. Also, anticipated strong demand for the next-generation autonomous database supported by machine learning will boost competitive position against Amazon Web Services (AWS). Nonetheless, stiff competition in the cloud market from dominant players is anticipated to limit margin expansion. Further, lower hardware volumes are anticipated to hurt top-line growth consequently keeping margins under pressure. Additionally, integration risks from buyouts remain a concern. Notably, shares of Oracle have underperformed the industry in the past one year.”

Restaurant Brands International (NYSE:QSR) (TSE:QSR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Restaurant Brands have outperformed the industry in the past six months. Recently, the company reported first-quarter 2019 results, wherein earnings missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate but revenues surpassed the same. However, both the top and bottom line increased on a year-over-year basis. Furthermore, solid expansion efforts, various sales building strategies and focus on franchise business model bode well for the company. Restaurant Brands is also optimistic about its strategies that are likely to drive comparable sales and profitability for all three iconic brands in the long run. Nonetheless, competition and increased labor wages might hurt profits. The company also has limited influence over its franchisees. Consequently, its ability to control restaurants’ operations, and implement operational initiatives and business strategies is restricted.”

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $86.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Starbucks have outperformed the industry in the past six months. The momentum is likely to continue as the company reported solid second-quarter fiscal 2019 earnings and also raised its full-year view. Notably, earnings surpassed the estimates in all of the trailing four quarters. For fiscal 2019, non-GAAP EPS is expected to be $2.75-$2.79, up from $2.68-$2.73 mentioned earlier. Robust Americas and CAP comps too bode well. Meanwhile, Starbucks' business is rapidly growing in China, courtesy of innovative store designs, local product innovations and the success of MSR program. Also, operating fundamentals such as solid global footprint, successful innovations, best-in-class loyalty program and digital offerings are encouraging. Again, digital initiatives like mobile order/pay and delivery services can further stimulate robust sales trends. However, operating margin contraction over the past few quarters has been a major concern.”

Synlogic (NASDAQ:SYBX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $8.75 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Synlogic, Inc. engaged in the development of a novel class of living Synthetic Biotic(TM) medicines based on its proprietary drug discovery and development platform. The company’s pipeline includes Synthetic Biotic medicines for the treatment of rare genetic diseases such as Urea Cycle Disorder and Phenylketonuria. In addition, the company is leveraging the broad potential of its platform to create Synthetic Biotic medicines for the treatment of other diseases, such as liver disease, inflammatory and immune disorders and cancer. It is collaborating with AbbVie to develop Synthetic Biotic-based treatments for inflammatory bowel disease. Synlogic Inc., formerly known as Mirna Therapeutics Inc., is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “

Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Symantec suffered weak Q4 results wherein both earnings and revenues fell on a year-over-year basis. The company is hurt by a drop in the enterprise bookings, softening its Enterprise Security segment. Low ProxySG refresh cycle and tepid sales of cloud proxy, Web Security Services, mailnly due to competition loss to Zscale, is a concern. Further, rising costs in the Enterprise business are expected to keep margins under pressure in the near term. Also, leak guidance provided by the company and the abrupt departure of CEO Greg Clark are likely to leave the stock stressed. Shares of the company have underperformed the industry year to date. However, solid demand for cybersecurity-related products and an increase in the global IT security spending due to menacingly growing global hacking events are a positive. Moreover, Symantec's innovative products and solutions will help it win customers, thereby increasing its business volume.”

Tarena International (NASDAQ:TEDU) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Tarena International, Inc. is a provider of professional education services in China. The Company specializes in Information Technology professional education services including classroom training. It offers education courses in nine IT subjects, such as Java, C++, software testing, PHP, embedded, Android, .NET, iOS, and Linux and network engineering; and two non-IT subjects comprising digital art, and online sales and marketing through live distance instruction, classroom-based tutoring, and online learning modules. Tarena International, Inc. is headquartered in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China. “

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