Analyst Upgrades: Microsoft Corporation, Apple Inc., and Intuitive Surgical, Inc.

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings and price targets on Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG)

Jul 20, 2016 at 9:19 AM
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Analysts are weighing in on Dow stocks Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), as well as da Vinci surgical robot maker Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on MSFT, AAPL, and ISRG.

  • MSFT is up 5.1% in electronic trading -- on track to close its late-April earnings-related bear gap -- after the tech company's fiscal fourth-quarter results beat expectations on strong growth in its cloud division. Additionally, the stock received a bevy of price-target hikes, including one from Bernstein to $69 from $68. Not only does this represent expected upside of 30% to last night's close at $53.09, but it stands in record-high territory. Ahead of the opening bell, Microsoft Corporation is down 4.3% year-to-date, although today's projected price move could send the shares back into the black on a year-to-date basis. Meanwhile, short-term options traders have been more put-heavy than usual toward the stock. MSFT's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.68 ranks in the 77th annual percentile.

  • AAPL -- which will step on to the earnings stage after next Tuesday's close -- saw its "strong buy" rating and $150 price target reiterated at Needham today. Specifically, the brokerage firm said the popularity of Pokemon Go could add $3 billion to Apple Inc.'s bottom line -- with fellow Dow stock McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) already capitalizing on the virtual reality game's success. Not only has optimism among analysts been growing ahead of the firm's upcoming earnings report, but options bulls have been quick to climb on board. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), AAPL's 10-day call/put volume ratio ranks in the 67th annual percentile. Should the stock widen its 24% year-over-year deficit -- based on Tuesday's settlement at $99.87 -- a round of bearish brokerage notes and/or an unwinding of these bullish bets could pressure the shares even lower.

  • ISRG is set to start the session 6.6% higher -- and at a record high -- after the company's better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and upwardly revised full-year procedure growth forecast were met with no fewer than nine price-target hikes. The most optimistic outlook came from Stifel, which boosted its price target by $100 to $800. Longer term, the stock has turned in an impressive performance this year -- up 23% at $671.90 amid support from its 50-day moving average. Short sellers have been calling it a day amid this uptrend, too. Short interest dropped nearly 12% in the most recent reporting period, and now accounts for just 2.7% of Intuitive Surgical, Inc.'s available float. However, it would still take three sessions to cover the remaining bearish bets, at ISRG's average daily pace of trading, leaving some sideline cash available to help fuel the stock's fire.
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