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Analysts are weighing in today on banking issue BB&T Corporation (BBT - 30.41), insurance company American International Group, Inc. (AIG - 32.60), and petroleum refining business Valero Energy Corporation (VLO - 24.31). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes.
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- Starting with BBT, the stock is hovering around breakeven this morning, attempting to capitalize on a trio of price target hikes. Specifically, Baird upped its target to $32 from $28, while maintaining a "neutral" rating; FBR lifted its price target by $8 to $28, and held onto its "market perform" rating; and Citigroup also kept its "neutral" rating, but raised its target to $31 from $29. Additional target hikes could be in the cards for BBT, should the stock prolong its solid 21.7% year-to-date ascent. Thomson Reuters places the average 12-month price target at $31.57, which represents just a fractional premium to Monday's close of $30.63.
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- Elsewhere, Wells Fargo upgraded AIG to "outperform" from "market perform," suggesting that the bailed-out insurance provider will be able to sever its ties with the U.S. government over the next year. The brokerage also raised its earnings outlook for AIG to $3.38 per share in 2012, and $3.06 per share in 2013. Analysts are primarily bearish toward the equity, even though the shares have tacked on nearly 38% year-to-date, and have outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by roughly 20% during the past 60 sessions. There are three "strong buys" for AIG, compared to 12 middling "holds." At last look, the stock is up 1.9%.
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- Finally, VLO received word today that Citigroup has lifted the stock to "top pick" from "buy." Of the 12 brokerages interested in the Texas-based company, six consider it a "strong buy," five call it a tepid "hold" and one deems it a "strong sell." But this bullish action has failed to spark any positive momentum in the shares. Currently, VLO is down nearly 1.6%, adding to its 10% year-over-year deficit. In fact, bearish sentiment is rising on VLO, as short interest has jumped 42% over the past two reporting periods.