Analyst Upgrades: Apple Inc., Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., and Merck & Co., Inc.

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings and price targets on Apple Inc. (AAPL), Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG), and Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Oct 13, 2016 at 9:25 AM

Analysts are weighing in on iPhone peddler Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), restaurant stock Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), and drugmaker Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on AAPL, CMG, and MRK.

  • Pacific Crest raised its price target on AAPL to $129 from $121, in annual-high territory. While the stock is off 0.7% in pre-market trading, it has come quite a way since testing the $90 level in mid-May, settling Wednesday at $117.34 -- benefiting more recently from one rival's demise. Options traders have been quick to bet on Apple Inc. upside, too. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), AAPL has racked up a top-heavy 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.40, which sits 2 percentage points from an annual high.

  • Despite shedding about 42% year-over-year, CMG saw its price target hiked to $325 from $300 at Maxim -- though this is still a significant discount to yesterday's close at $418.52, and represents lows not touched since mid-2013. Understandably, sentiment on Wall Street is generally stacked against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Seventeen of 25 analysts rate the shares a "hold" or worse, while over one-fifth of its float is sold short. In fact, it would take nearly one week for shorts to cover their positions, based on CMG's typical trading levels.

  • MRK received an upgrade to "buy" from "neutral" at BofA-Merrill Lynch, which also lifted its target price to $70 from $57 -- while, elsewhere, Jefferies bumped its price target up to $65. Though MRK shares have advanced 16.7% year-to-date to trade at $61.66, they haven't explored the $65-$70 zone since 2001 -- hitting a 14-year high of $64.86 on Monday. Options traders have been wagering on even higher highs. Merck & Co., Inc. has amassed a 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 3.30, in the bullishly skewed 92nd annual percentile.
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