Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog

Analyst Upgrades: Bank of America, Walgreen Company, and Halliburton

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings on BAC, WAG, and HAL

by 2/19/2013 9:01 AM
Stocks quoted in this article:

Analysts are weighing in today on financial services firm Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC - 12.03) , drug store chain Walgreen Company (NYSE:WAG - 41.15), and gas & oil concern Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL - 42.70). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes.

  • Up 50% on a year-over-year basis, BAC was upgraded to "outperform" from "market perform" at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods this morning. Despite this vote of confidence, however, most of the covering analysts maintain a cautious attitude toward the equity. BAC currently sports nine "buy" or better endorsements, compared to 17 tepid "holds," and one "strong sell" suggestion. What's more, the stock's average 12-month price target of $12.49 reflects expected upside of just 3.8% to Friday's closing price of $12.03. This leaves plenty of room for future upgrades and/or price-target hikes, which could help push the shares higher.

  • WAG -- which has climbed about 11% so far this year -- scored a price-target hike to $45 from $43 at Cantor Fitzgerald ahead of the opening bell. Nevertheless, sentiment among the short-term crowd is bearishly biased. Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for WAG checks in at 1.58, with puts easily outstripping calls among options scheduled to expire within the next three months. In fact, this ratio ranks higher than all other readings taken during the past 12 months, meaning near-term traders are more put-heavy toward the equity now than at any other time during the last 52 weeks.

  • HAL was raised to "overweight" from "neutral," and saw its price target lifted to $52 from $45 at J.P. Morgan Securities today -- a move that could help add to the stock's year-to-date gain of about 23%. In the same vein, Stephens upgraded the stock to "overweight" from "equal weight." Meanwhile, the equity's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio sits at 1.06, indicating puts bought to open have slightly outnumbered calls during the past two weeks. This ratio ranks in the 83rd percentile of its annual range, denoting a stronger-than-usual preference for puts over calls.

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