Monday’s Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Activision Blizzard, Alphabet, Carvana, Discover Financial, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Texas Instruments and More

The futures were higher to open the new trading week, with 150 companies in the S&P 500 set to report second-quarter earnings. The major indexes finished the day and the week mixed on Friday. The Dow Jones industrials eked out a small gain and ran its winning streak to 10 straight sessions, the longest feat since August of 2017. There was plenty of volatility to end the week, as a massive number of index and stock options contracts expired Friday and portfolio managers were resetting portfolios to account for the one-off Nasdaq 100 rebalance, which takes effect Monday. All eyes will be laser-focused on the Federal Reserve meeting this week, as it is possible the Fed announces what may be the final interest rate hike for a while.

Treasury yields were mixed across the curve on Friday, with the shorter maturities mostly unchanged to modestly higher, while the longer maturities were slightly lower after a big backup in yields last Thursday. The 10-year note finished the day at 3.84%, while the two-year paper closed at 4.85%, expanding the inversion to 101-basis-points, still the widest since 1981.

Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude finished the week solidly higher, closing up 1.64% and 1.76%, respectively, to finish at $80.95 and $70.68 on Friday. The falling rig count and the Saudi production cuts were still noted as reasons for the strength, as sentiment for the sector is improving. Natural gas closed slightly lower at $2.72.

Gold finished Friday lower by 0.32% at 1,964.80, as the bullion gave back some gains from a strong rally over the past week. Some bullish traders felt this could be a small pullback for the precious metal as it preps for a run to the $2,100 level. Bitcoin finished the day slightly higher at $29,869.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each weekday with a goal of finding fresh ideas for investors and traders alike. Some of these daily analyst calls cover stocks to buy. Other calls cover stocks to sell or avoid. Remember that no single analyst call should ever be used as a basis to buy or sell a stock. Consensus analyst target data is from Refinitiv.

These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Monday, July 24, 2023.

Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) Roth MKM downgraded the stock to Neutral from Buy but raised its target price to the Microsoft purchase price for the company of $95. The consensus target is $94, and Friday’s close was at $91.91.

Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL): Stifel reiterated a Buy rating and hiked its $130 target price to $135. The consensus target is $135.38, and Friday’s closing share price was $120.02.

Aspen Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: AZPN): Loop Capital cut its Buy rating to Hold and its $240 target price to $170. The consensus target is $206.29. The shares ended trading on Friday at $172.07.

Blackstone Inc. (NYSE: BX): J.P. Morgan downgraded the shares to Neutral from Overweight while raising the target price to $111 for $102. That compares with a $107.94 consensus target and Friday’s closing print of $104.89.

Carvana Co. (NYSE: CVNA): Piper Sandler downgraded the shares to Neutral from Overweight but raised the $29 target price to $48. The consensus target is $35. The shares closed Friday at $46.73, down over 2% on the day after a recent huge short-squeeze rally.

Consolidated Edison Inc. (NYSE: ED): BofA Securities upgraded the utility to Buy from Neutral. The analyst also lifted the $92 target price to $103, well above the $90.08 consensus target. The stock closed on Friday at $97.13.

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS): Piper Sandler’s downgrade was to Neutral from Overweight, and the target price dropped to $112 from $130. The consensus target is $120.20. The stock closed almost 3% higher Friday at $105.11.

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