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Analyst Upgrades: VMware, AOL, and Gilead Sciences

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings on VMW, GILD, and AOL

by 8/28/2012 9:20 AM
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Analysts are weighing in today on virtualization concern VMware, Inc. (NYSE:VMW - 92.32), biopharma issue Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD - 57.19), and Web services provider AOL, Inc. (NYSE:AOL - 33.86). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes.

  • A session after the start of its annual developers' meeting, VMW scored an upbeat analyst note. Specifically, ThinkEquity upped its price target on the stock to $105 from $100, and reiterated its "buy" recommendation. While VMW is no stranger to analyst affection -- the stock has earned 17 "buy" or better endorsements, compared to 10 lukewarm "holds" and not one "sell" -- not everyone on the Street is a fan. In fact, the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) sits at an annual peak of 1.67, implying that short-term options traders haven't been more put-heavy at any other time during the past year.

  • Thanks to some encouraging news from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), GILD has been flooded with bullish analyst attention. So far this morning, Jefferies, Needham, and Stifel raised their respective price targets on the stock to $55, $65, and $68. What's more, a reversal in sentiment in the options pits could add contrarian fuel to GILD's fire. Over on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock sports a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.16 -- in the 73rd percentile of its annual range. In other words, option buyers scooped up GILD puts over calls at a faster-than-usual pace during the past couple of weeks.

  • In the wake of yesterday's announcement of a special dividend and share-buyback program, AOL saw its price target lifted to $35 from $33 at Barclays. However, despite flirting with the $34 level -- just a hair's breadth from record-high territory -- the stock remains under-loved among the analyst community. Currently, just three brokerage firms consider AOL worthy of a "buy" or better rating, compared to seven "hold" or worse recommendations. Likewise, the consensus 12-month price target on the equity rests at just $33, representing a discount to AOL's closing price of $33.86 on Monday. Should more analysts follow Barclays' lead, a flood of upgrades or more price-target boosts could translate into a contrarian boon for the outperformer.

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