Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb Upgraded

Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb shares are on Jefferies' bullish radar

Mar 9, 2017 at 9:20 AM
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Analysts are weighing in big-cap drug stocks Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY). Here's a roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on JNJ, MRK, and BMY shares.

Jefferies Predicts Record Highs for Johnson & Johnson

Jefferies raised its price target on JNJ to $132, representing record-high territory for the Dow stock, and a solid premium to Wednesday's close of $124.10. The shares have been rising in recent weeks, gaining 12% since their late-January low. There's plenty of room for additional bullish attention to come through on Johnson & Johnson, since 11 of 18 covering brokerage firms still rate the equity a "hold" or worse.

Fresh Price-Target Hike for Merck Stock

Jefferies also upped its price target on MRK, setting the bar at $52. However, there's still room to move, considering this new target is at a significant discount to last night's finish at $65.80. Merck & Co., Inc. has had a strong 12 months on the charts, gaining over 25%, and hitting a 15-year high of $66.80 on March 1. In the options pits, though, there's been an unusual uptick in put buying, with the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) coming in at 0.73 -- in the 81st annual percentile. An unwinding of this skepticism could actually help the stock in the near term. 

Jefferies Expects a Bristol-Myers Squibb Bounce

Another drug stock Jefferies weighed in on was BMY, with the brokerage firm setting a price target of $66. This represents 15.6% upside to BMY's Wednesday close at $57.12, and territory not seen since before an August bear gap. Nevertheless, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co shares are trading slightly lower ahead of the bell, on track to add to their roughly 14% year-to-date deficit. Should upbeat analysts begin to change their tune, the stock could see additional technical trouble. Currently, eight of 13 brokerages maintain a "buy" or better rating, leaving the door wide open for downgrades. 

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