Analyst Upgrades: Apple, Exxon Mobil, Juniper Networks

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings on Apple Inc. (AAPL), Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), and Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR)

Mar 9, 2015 at 9:17 AM
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Analysts are weighing in today on iPad parent Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), energy bigwig Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), and networking developer Juniper Networks, Inc. (NYSE:JNPR). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on AAPL, XOM, and JNPR.

  • AAPL -- which is expected to unveil a new smartwatch today and will join the Dow Jones Industrial Average next week -- got some love from the brokerage crowd this morning. Specifically, Macquarie boosted its price target on the stock to $145 from $130 -- in uncharted territory -- and underscored its "outperform" opinion. The upbeat note is well-deserved, considering Apple Inc. has advanced 67% year-over-year to perch at $126.60. In fact, optimism is prevalent among analysts, with 24 out of 30 handing out "buy" or better ratings, compared to six "holds" and not a single "sell." Ahead of the bell, AAPL is pointed close to 1% higher.

  • XOM saw Goldman Sachs resume coverage with a "buy" recommendation, despite the stock's year-to-date deficit of 7.4%. Looking more closely at the charts, since hitting a year-to-date high of $93.45 -- and running into its 200-day moving average -- in mid-February, the shares have dropped 8.4% to rest at $85.63. In fact, XOM tagged an annual low of $85.32 on Friday, as commodities got crushed. As such, pessimism has been building in Exxon Mobil Corporation's options pits. The stock's 50-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 2.06 indicates puts have been bought to open at more than twice the rate of calls in recent months. What's more, the ratio ranks in the 88th percentile of its annual range. If that's not enough, skepticism toward XOM is prevalent among brokerage firms, today's note notwithstanding.

  • Finally, Goldman Sachs upped its rating on JNPR to "buy" from "neutral," and its price target to $28 from $26. This is somewhat surprising, considering the shares have dropped 10.2% year-over-year to trade at $23.57. It also represents a break from the majority of brokerage firms, as 72% of covering analysts have given Juniper Networks, Inc. a tepid "hold" endorsement. On the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX, call buying has been running at a breakneck pace in recent weeks, per the equity's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 16.62 -- which ranks in the 98th percentile of its annual range. However, short interest exploded by nearly 21% during the latest reporting period, so a number of these long calls may have been initiated by short sellers seeking an upside hedge. In premarket action, JNPR is 2% north of breakeven.

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