Analyst Downgrades: Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc, General Mills, Inc., and Marathon Oil Corporation

Analysts downwardly revised their ratings and price targets on Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX), General Mills, Inc. (GIS), and Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO)

Dec 15, 2016 at 10:12 AM
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Analysts are weighing in on drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX), cereal specialist General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS), and oil-and-gas stock Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes on VRX, GIS, and MRO.

  • VRX is off 5.7% at $13.31 -- and earlier tapped a new six-year low of $13.18 -- after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to "equal weight" from "overweight," and lowered its price target to $17 from $25. Specifically, the brokerage said, "Our thesis that Valeant's business would stabilize and asset sales would enhance value has not materialized. We move to the sidelines as we await future corporate updates." The decision is hardly surprising, considering Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc's nearly 87% year-to-date plummet. In fact, pessimism toward VRX seems to be springing up on all sides. Not only has short interest been climbing to near-record-high levels, but the stock's options pits also saw a rare rush toward puts on Wednesday. 

  • GIS received a downgrade to "sector perform" from "outperform" at RBC, which also cut its price target on the stock by $4 to $69, citing weakness in yogurt sales. "While it is conceivable that cereal can return to growth, the recent deterioration in yogurt has been concerning - especially since it has coincided with lower competitive price pressure," an analyst at the firm noted. While shares of General Mills, Inc. are perched atop support at the 50-day moving average, they're off 0.4% today at $62.59, and have been running into trouble at the $64 level since late September. It seems options traders have been betting on a sustained slide for GIS, based on the security's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.44 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) -- higher than 78% of the past year's readings.

  • MRO is down 0.7% at $18.07 after Instinet lowered its rating on the stock to "neutral" from "buy" -- though the firm also raised its price target to $19 from $15. The brokerage said, "The recent strength in the energy market and in MRO specifically has driven the stock to within 5 percent of our revised $19 target." Weighing on Marathon Oil Corporation this morning is a slump in crude oil prices, as the U.S. dollar strengthens following yesterday's Fed rate hike decision. Still, the stock has added 43.5% so far in 2016, and hit an annual high of $19.28 earlier this week, after recently reclaiming a foothold above its 100-week moving average for the first time since late 2014. The brokerage bunch remains skeptical, however, with more than half of the firms following MRO maintaining a "hold" or "strong sell" recommendation.
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