Analyst Downgrades: Halliburton Company, General Motors Company, and Vital Therapies Inc

Analysts downwardly revised their ratings on Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL), General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), and Vital Therapies Inc

by Karee Venema

Published on Aug 24, 2015 at 9:53 AM
Updated on Aug 25, 2015 at 2:28 PM

Analysts are weighing in on oil-and-gas issue Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL), automaker General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), and biotherapeutic firm Vital Therapies Inc (NASDAQ:VTL). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes on HAL, GM, and VTL.

  • After closing at $35.69 on Friday, HAL has dropped 5.5% to trade at $33.72, and earlier touched an annual low of $30.93. Weighing on the stock is a continued sell-off in crude oil, as well as price-target cuts to $51 from both Susquehanna and Raymond James. Longer term, HAL has shed 42% since being swiftly rejected by its 320-day moving average last November. Option traders, meanwhile, have been betting on a bounce. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), Halliburton Company's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.14 sits in the 75th annual percentile. In other words, calls have been bought to open over puts at a quicker-than-usual pace.

  • China's recent volatility has spread quickly to stocks with exposure to the mainland. GM is one such name, and in the past two months, the security has surrendered nearly 19% to trade at $28.17. What's more, the stock hit a two-year low of $24.62 out of the gate, after Morgan Stanley initiated coverage of GM with an "underweight" rating and a $27 price target, citing the risk China has created. Should the shares continue to struggle, more uninspiring analyst notes could be on the horizon -- which may translate into a fresh wave of selling pressure. Currently, eight out of 13 analysts maintain a "buy" or better recommendation for General Motors Company, with not a single "sell" to be found. Plus, the average 12-month price target of $40 stands at a 42% premium to current levels.

  • VTL has given back 77.4% to trade at $4 -- and touched a record-low of $3.51 -- after reports the company has halted late-stage trials for its liver therapy, ELAD, were met with a round of bearish brokerage attention. Credit Suisse, for example, lowered its outlook to "neutral" from "outperform" and its price target to $9 from $25. Elsewhere, SunTrust Robinson cut its rating to "neutral" from "buy," and slashed its price target by $45 to $5. William Blair also chimed it, reducing its rating to "market perform" and its target price to $5. Another round of negative analyst attention could come down the pike. All three brokerages covering Vital Therapies Inc maintain a "strong buy," while the stock's consensus 12-month price target of $35.60 is now a moonshot away. 

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