Analyst Upgrades: AT&T Inc., Green Dot Corporation, and Cigna Corporation

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings on AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Green Dot Corporation (NYSE:GDOT), and CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jun 23, 2015 at 9:05 AM

Analysts are weighing in today on telecom titan AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), financial firm Green Dot Corporation (NYSE:GDOT), and health insurance issue CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on T, GDOT, and CI.

  • Ahead of T's appearance at the J.P. Morgan Mexico Opportunities Conference this afternoon, the stock was on the receiving end of positive brokerage attention. Specifically, UBS and Barclays upgraded their ratings to the equivalent of a "buy," while the latter also boosted its price target to $39 from $34, citing potential cost synergies from the company's purchase of DIRECTV (NASDAQ:DTV). As a result, AT&T Inc. is sitting 1.5% higher ahead of the bell, attempting to climb atop its year-over-year breakeven mark. More recently, the stock has fared well on the charts, rallying 8.2% since its mid-April bottom of $32.37 to trade at $35.04. Should this recent trend continue, T could benefit from another round of bullish analyst notes. Currently, 14 of 22 brokerage firms consider the shares a "hold," and the equity's consensus 12-month price target of $34.61 is below present trading levels.

  • Fresh off a new, long-term MoneyCard agreement with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc (NYSE:WMT), GDOT is up 28.8% in pre-market action, relative to Monday's close at $15.31. Adding fuel to the fire is a trio of price-target hikes from JMP Securities (to $23), KBW (to $20), and SunTrust Robinson (to $20). While Green Dot Corporation has lost 25% year-to-date, today's expected surge will go a long way toward closing that gap. Meanwhile, short-term options traders have been extremely call-skewed toward the equity, per its Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.21. Not only does this indicate call open interest outweighs put open interest by about a 5-to-1 margin -- among options expiring in the next three months -- but the SOIR is also lower than all comparable readings from the past year.

  • The bullish party will likely continue for CI, which has soared 58% year-to-date to sit at $162.60 -- and yesterday reached a record high of $167, after the company rejected a buyout proposal. This morning, Leerink upped its price target to $175 from $160, boosting the shares 1.5% ahead of the bell. Options traders foresee additional upside for CIGNA Corporation, as well, according to data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). The stock's 50-day call/put volume ratio across these exchanges is 2.88, outstripping 72% of comparable readings taken in the last 12 months. In other words, traders have been buying to open CI calls over puts at an accelerated clip recently.

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