Analyst Update: Apple, Esperion, United Continental

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

Apr 1, 2015 at 12:26 PM
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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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