Stocks quoted in this article:
The broad-market indexes are lower at midday, as traders digest the latest manufacturing data and speeches from various central bankers. Meanwhile, among the equities in focus are smartphone concern BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY), online review issue Yelp Inc (NYSE:YELP), and financial firm Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC), which have all attracted the attention of analysts.
- Cormark this morning upgraded BBRY to "speculative buy" from "market perform," and lifted its price target by $4 to $11.50. The positive analyst note is the second in as many sessions for BlackBerry Ltd, though there's still plenty of room on the bullish bandwagon ahead of the firm's turn in the earnings confessional on Friday morning. Currently, not one of the 28 brokerage firms following the stock deems it worthy of a "buy" or better rating. Plus, the average 12-month price target of $9.23 is just a stone's throw from BBRY's current price of $9.18. A stronger-than-expected earnings showing later this week could trigger a wave of additional upgrades and/or price-target boosts, potentially propelling BBRY even higher. The shares have already added roughly 28% in 2014, and have outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by almost 17 percentage points during the past 60 sessions.
- YELP is 2.6% lower at $80.80, despite scoring a double dose of bullish brokerage attention. Specifically, Jefferies upped its price target to $100 from $87, and reiterated its "buy" endorsement, while JMP Securities revised its rating to "outperform" from "market perform," and set a $113 price target -- about 11% north of YELP's current record peak of $101.75, tagged on March 5. In the wake of the equity's recent pullback -- Yelp Inc shares have surrendered more than 14.5% so far in March -- short-term options traders are more put-heavy than usual, as the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.80 stands in the 85th percentile of its annual range. However, traders are buying short-term contracts at a relative discount, as the stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 52% sits higher than just 21% of all comparable readings from the past year.
- Finally, while some of its sector comrades were slapped with negative analyst attention this morning, WFC received an upgrade to "neutral" from "underweight" at Atlantic Equities. Furthermore, the brokerage firm hiked its price target by $5 to $53. The majority of analysts remain wary of Wells Fargo & Co, however, with 11 out of 21 doling out "hold" or worse recommendations. Meanwhile, the average 12-month price target of $49.20 is just cents away from WFC's current price of $49.00. However, short-term options players are more call-centered than usual, as reflected in the stock's SOIR of 0.65 -- just 4 percentage points from a 52-week low.