Analyst Upgrades: Apple Inc., Pier 1 Imports Inc, and Verizon Communications Inc.

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings and price targets on Apple Inc. (AAPL), Pier 1 Imports Inc (PIR), and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ)

Dec 15, 2016 at 9:28 AM
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Analysts are weighing in on tech titan Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), retail interest Pier 1 Imports Inc (NYSE:PIR), and telecommunications stock Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on AAPL, PIR, and VZ.

  • Needham named AAPL its "Top Pick for 2017," while reiterating a "strong buy" rating and lofty $150 price target on the stock -- territory yet to be charted by the shares. The brokerage firm specifically cited a "falling corporate tax rate and repatriation of over $200B from cash balances offshore." However, at $115.19, Apple Inc.'s 9.4% year-to-date gain lags the broader market, and the shares have been running into a speed bump at the positive 10% year-to-date level, which shut down a rally in September. Meanwhile, options traders continue to place bullish bets at a rapid rate, per AAPL's 10-week call/put volume ratio of 1.94 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) -- in the 87th percentile of its annual range. A capitulation among option bulls could trigger powerful headwinds.

  • PIR is set to soar nearly 22% at the open, putting the shares at a fresh 12-month high. The company reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and raised its full-year forecast, while also naming Chairman Terry London as interim CEO and president. No fewer than five brokerage firms have weighed in with price-target hikes so far, including Wedbush, which set the highest target at $8. As of Wednesday's finish at $6.48, Pier 1 Imports Inc was already seated on a 27.3% gain for 2016, after outperforming the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by roughly 52 percentage points over the past three months. PIR could stand to benefit if short sellers continue to hit the bricks, too. These bearish bets have dropped by more than 40% during the two most recent reporting periods, but still account for about 14% of the equity's available float.

  • Despite a price-target hike to $49 from $47 at Macquarie, VZ is down 0.5% in electronic trading. Weighing on the shares is news that soon-to-be-acquired Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) identified a major data breach that could have affected more than one billion users. When considered alongside September's Yahoo! hack revelation, the latest report could negatively impact the internet company's value to Verizon Communications Inc., which in July agreed to pay $4.8 billion for YHOO's core assets. Overall, analysts have been wary of VZ. Though the shares have tacked on more than 8% since Election Day, at $51.63, 16 out of 25 brokerages rate the stock a "hold" or worse.
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