Analyst Update: Apple Inc., Esperion Therapeutics Inc, and United Continental Holdings, Inc.

Analysts adjusted their ratings on Apple Inc. (AAPL), Esperion Therapeutics Inc (ESPR), and United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL)

by Griffin Kruse

Published on Apr 1, 2015 at 12:26 PM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Analysts are weighing in today on iPhone maker Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), biopharmaceutical firm Esperion Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ESPR), and airline concern United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL). Here's a quick look at today's brokerage notes on AAPL, ESPR, and UAL.

  • AAPL is down 0.4% to $123.91, after Citigroup added the equity to its "U.S. Focus List" while underscoring its "buy" opinion. On the charts, Apple Inc. has experienced a slight pullback recently, with the shares down 7.3% from their Feb. 24 all-time high of $133.60. Sentiment in the options pits has been bearish, as AAPL's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 0.53 ranks higher than 77% of all equivalent readings from the past year. Meanwhile, the brokerage bunch is mostly bullish on the equity, as 79% of covering analysts rate it a "buy" or better, with no "sell" recommendations to be found.

  • UBS initiated coverage on ESPR with a "buy" rating and a lofty $140 price target, which represents a roughly 40% premium to the shares' current perch of $104.08. Although the shares are up 12.4% so far today -- and 156.6% year-to-date -- Esperion Therapeutics Inc is down 12.5% since hitting an all-time high of $118.95 on March 19. Short sellers have taken a shine to the stock, as short interest increased by 10.4% over the last reporting period. Presently, 13.1% of ESPR's available float is sold short, which would take roughly two and half sessions cover, at average trading volumes.

  • UAL is down 4.2% to $64.42, after Deutsche Bank downgraded the security to "hold" from "buy" -- while cutting its price target by $15 to $70 -- as part of a broader downward revision to its outlook for several airline stocks. Looking back, the shares of United Continental Holdings Inc have slipped recently, down 13.6% from their Jan. 26 all-time high of $74.52. Meanwhile, sentiment in the options pits has hit a pessimistic peak, as UAL's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 1.55 is the highest such reading taken over the past year. Despite today's negative note, most of the brokerage bunch has kept the faith; prior to the Deutsche Bank downgrade, 11 out of 13 covering analysts rated the stock a "strong buy."

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