Analyst Upgrades: Applied Materials, Inc., E TRADE Financial Corporation, and Genworth Financial Inc

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings on AMAT, ETFC, and GNW

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Nov 13, 2014 at 9:29 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Analysts are weighing in today on semiconductor concern Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT), online broker E TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:ETFC), and wealth management firm Genworth Financial Inc (NYSE:GNW). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on AMAT, ETFC, and GNW.

  • Ahead of its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report tonight, AMAT received an upgrade to "outperform" from "neutral," and a price-target hike to $26 from $22, at Credit Suisse. The shares have performed well in 2014, adding more than 27% to their perch at $22.49 -- though the stock has struggled in the $23 area over the past few months. On the sentiment front, traders at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open more than 27 calls for every put during the last two weeks. The resultant 10-day call/put volume ratio of 27.41 across those exchanges ranks in the 84th percentile of its annual range, indicating speculators have rarely preferred bullish bets over bearish by a wider margin. In other news, Taiwan Semiconductor identified Applied Materials, Inc. as one of its vendors this morning.

  • Following ETFC's announcement of a new debt restructuring plan (subscription required), Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investor Services yesterday both raised their ratings on the company. That was followed by a pair of price-target hikes at Sandler O'Neill (to $26 from $25, plus a "buy" rating) and Raymond James (to $27.50 from $27, plus an "outperform" rating) overnight. On the charts, E TRADE Financial Corporation shares have rallied 27.3% year-over-year to Wednesday's close at $22.83. As such, traders at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX have been scooping up long calls over puts at an extreme pace of late. Specifically, ETFC's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 78.92 is higher than all other readings from the previous year.

  • Finally, GNW is sitting nearly 2% higher ahead of the bell, after Raymond James upped its rating on the shares to "outperform" from "market perform," and set a price target of $12.50, citing "a substantial margin of safety in Genworth's current share price." Technically speaking, the stock has struggled in 2014, and just last week got crushed following a poor showing in the earnings confessional. In fact, since the start of the calendar year, Genworth Financial Inc is off 43.3% to rest at $8.80, and last Friday touched a fresh annual low of $7.17. At the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX, the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.64 ranks in the top quartile of its annual range, suggesting option players have been placing bearish bets over bullish at a faster-than-usual rate recently.

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