Research Analysts’ Upgrades for April, 17th (CME, CNA, DNZOY, FISV, GDDY, GLNG, HPQ, HTZ, ISRG, JCOM)

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Research Analysts’ upgrades for Wednesday, April 17th:

CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “CME Group remains well-poised for growth on a strong market position with varied derivative product lines. Efforts to expand and cross sell its core exchange-traded business via new product initiatives and a global reach are positives. It intends to focus more on over-the-counter clearing services on interest rate swaps as well as foreign exchange. Also, the buyout of Nex Group will help CME Group generate $200 million in run-rate cost synergies, annually, by 2021-end. Also, the company targets 1x debt-to-EBITDA by 2020 end. However, the company is facing escalating expenses that are putting pressure on margins. Shares of the company have underperformed the industry year to date.  The company is set to report first quarter results on May 1. A Zacks Rank #3 and earnings EPS of 0.00% makes positive surprise prediction difficult. The Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged at $1.60 per share, reflecting a year-over-year decrease of nearly 14%.”

Cna Financial (NYSE:CNA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “CNA Financial is one of the versatile property and casualty insurers and has been maintaining a good track record of its combined ratio over the past few years, thus leading to underwriting profitability. Moreover, with the rising interest rate environment, the company has been displaying improving investment results over a considerable period of time. CNA Financial also remains committed to enhancing its shareholder value via an effective capital deployment. However, exposure to catastrophe loss poses an inherent risk to the P&C business, rendering volatility to the company’s earnings. Also, rising expenses might weigh on desired margin expansion. The company also witnessed its 2019 estimates move south in the last 60 days. Shares of CNA Financial have underperformed the industry year to date. A Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and an Earnings ESP of 0.00% makes prediction difficult as it reports first quarter earnings results on Apr 29.”

DENSO CORP/ADR (OTCMKTS:DNZOY) was upgraded by analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc from a neutral rating to a buy rating.

Fiserv (NASDAQ:FISV) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Fiserv continues to enjoy a dominant position in the financial and payments solutions business. Its diversified product portfolio helps attract a steady flow of customers. Prudent business moves in the form of acquisitions and partnerships have been growth catalysts. The company is focused on becoming a global leader in transaction-based technology solutions. The company is also consistent in rewarding its shareholders. On the flip side, the company’s core banking products and services are part of a highly competitive market. The industry is getting more competitive with the entry of several non-banking bodies. The company's policy of acquiring a large number of companies results in some integration risk. High debt may limit the company’s future expansion and worsen its risk profile. Shares of Fiserv have underperformed its industry over the past year.”

Godaddy (NYSE:GDDY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $89.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “GoDaddy continues to ride on its well-performing product segments. Growing adoption of its domain products continues to drive its top-line growth. Further, robust feature engagements and strong GoCentral are driving growth in its Hosting and Presence segment. Moreover, increasing subscription of GoCentral remains a major positive. Additionally, GoDaddy’s partnership with Microsoft for Office365 and growing momentum of Open-Xchange in emerging markets are likely to continue accelerate revenues within its Business Applications unit. We believe the company’s investment in products, technology platform and customer care, as well as offering highly personalized products and services globally are likely to drive shareholder value. Notably, the stock has outperformed the industry it belongs to over a year. However, the company’s heavy debt burden continues to be an overhang. Also, rising expenses and intensifying competition are risks.”

Golar LNG (NASDAQ:GLNG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $23.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Golar LNG is anticipated to benefit immensely this year on the back of strength in shipping activity. Moreover, FLNG Hilli Episeyo operations for the entire 2019 are expected to boost results. The commencement of Sergipe in 2020 is also a major positive, expected to drive the company’s cash flow. Its 20-year Lease and Operate Agreement (LOA) with BP for servicing the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim project is another major upside. This is because BP will make use of Golar LNG's floating liquefied natural gas vessels, Gimi, in the project. Moreover, on commencement, Gimi is expected to generate annual EBITDA of $215 million or more. Additionally, the company’s efforts to add shareholder value through dividends are encouraging. However, its high operating expenses are a huge cause for worry and might hamper the company's bottom-line growth in the first quarter of 2019. “

HP (NYSE:HPQ) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “HP’s efforts to turnaround the business have been commendable. The company is focusing on product innovation & differentiation, pricing, and marketing and sales activities to trigger demand for its PC and Printing products in the market, which is currently witnessing a slowdown. The company projects CPU shortages to show improvements during the second half as well as the cost from the overall basket of Components and Logistics is anticipated to improve. We note that rising macro uncertainties and price sensitivity among customers are overhangs on the company’s high-margin Printing business. Change in customer behavior with more customers buying items online, is negatively impacting HP’s Supplies share. Adverse currency volatility is another headwind to the company. Shares underperformed the industry in the past year.”

Hertz Global (NYSE:HTZ) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $19.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Hertz Global have outperfomed the industry it belongs to on a year-to-date basis. The company is being aided by  strong performance of the U.S. Rental Car segment. Revenues at the division grew 8.1% in 2018. Efficient fleet management is driving growth at this key unit. The company’s first-quarter 2019 results, scheduled to be released on May 6, are also likely to benefit from this tailwind. The company's measures to revive its fortunes through the turnaround plan are also encouraging. Evidently, the company's turnaround plan helped generate 8% revenue growth in 2018. The momentum is anticipated to continue into 2019. However, the company's heavy investments on its turnaround plans seem to partly affect the bottom line. Moreover, pricing pressure remains a major headwind due to low used car prices.”

Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Intuitive Surgical’s flagship da Vinci procedures recorded solid growth in recent times. Intuitive Surgical also looks to accelerate its business in China, following the clearance of da Vinci Xi. Management is also optimistic about the recent regulatory approvals for the TransOral Robotic Surgery, Ion endoluminal system and the Phase I launch of da Vinci SP. Wide exposure to robotics and medical mechatronics continues to drive the stock. Intuitive Surgical has outperformed the industry year to date. On the flip side, recent contraction in gross and operating margins raises concern for Intuitive Surgical. Management expects margins to fluctuate due to newer product mixes and surging operating expenses. Additionally, the da Vinci system is in the early stages of adoption in some of the markets outside the United States. Intense competition in the global MedTech space adds to the woes.”

J2 Global (NASDAQ:JCOM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $99.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “j2 Global is benefiting from strong performance of cloud services and digital media segment. An expanding subscriber base for Humble Bundle is a positive. Additionally, j2 Global’s efforts to reward shareholders through dividend payments make the stock attractive. Moreover, the company continues to strengthen its speedtest intelligence service, which is expected to drive subscription revenues. Notably, j2 Global’s estimates have been stable over the past seven days, ahead of its Q1 earnings release. Further, the company has a positive record of earnings surprise in the recent quarters. However, weakness in data backup business along with significant pricing pressure in the display market is negatively impacting j2 Global’s top line. Also, its shares have underperformed the industry in the past year.”

Alliant Energy (NYSE:LNT) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $52.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Alliant Energy have outperformed its industry in the past 24 months. Alliant Energy has plans to invest substantially over the next four years to add natural gas and renewable assets to its generation portfolio. Further, Alliant Energy will upgrade some of its coal facilities to lower carbon emission from its generating plants. The company's dividend payment since 1946 without fail shows its strong earnings visibility. However, dependence on third-party electric transmission systems remain headwinds for Alliant Energy. The company is also subject to stringent regulations and fulfilling the new conditions could further increase operating expenses.”

LogMeIn (NASDAQ:LOGM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “LogMeIn reaps benefits from a strong product portfolio comprising Jive, Bold360 ai and LastPass. The company’s efforts to address renewal headwinds in the Communications & Collaboration business are also garnering solid returns. Flow of deals also remains strong, aiding the company’s top-line growth. Estimates have been stable, lately, ahead of the company’s Q1 earnings release. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. However, LogMeIn's shares have underperformed the industry in the past year. Intensifying competition from Adobe Connect, Google and Microsoft Skype pose as major threats to the company. Moreover, higher spending on sales & marketing plus research & development expenses are putting margins under pressure.”

Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Lam Research is currently riding on its solid momentum in device architectures. Moreover, rising adoption of 3D architectures remain positive. It continues to drive the performance of the company’s non-memory segments. Further, rising equipment demand and advanced packaging technology inflections are acting as tailwinds. Additionally, it continues to benefit from its transition to new data-enabled economy, in which DRAM and NAND continue to gain from density growth. However, management expects memory segments to weaken during this year. Further, cyclicality and the current U.S.-China trade war are headwinds in the semiconductor industry. Notably, the stock has outperformed the industry it belongs to over a year.”

Allscripts Healthcare Solutions (NASDAQ:MDRX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Allscripts continues to gain from its Software, Delivery, Support and Maintenance units, which delivered solid growth in the last couple of quarters. Significant growth in bookings also buoys optimism. The company’s growth in revenue cycle services along with the recently-closed acquisition of HealthGrid is likely to boost its FollowMyHealth patient engagement platform. Apart from these, management is optimistic about the collaboration with Microsoft made in the recent past. On the flip side, the company’s core Client Services unit has reported dismal performance in recent times. Also, Allscripts saw significant margin contraction in the last reported quarter. The company is exposed to integration risks. Intense competition in the niche space is an added concern. Over the past year, Allscripts has underperformed its industry.”

Radian Group (NYSE:RDN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Radian have outperformed the industry in a year’s time. Radian group is poised for growth on expansive mortgage and real estate service offerings, declining delinquency, lower levels of paid claims and an improving risk-based capital ratio. Business restructuring intensified focus on core business and services with higher-growth potential besides more predictable and recurring fee-based revenues. EBITDA margin for the Services segment is still expected in the 10-15% range. Radian Group also announced that it is well placed for complying with PMIERs 2.0.  A Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of 0.74% makes us confident of positive earnings surprise as it reports first quarter earnings on May 1. However, stricter regulations, rising mortgage rates and a competitive market pose risks for Radian Group. The company has seen its 2019 and 2020 estimates move down in the last 60 days.”

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $72.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Royal Dutch Shell shares have outperformed the Zacks Oil & Gas Integrated industry over the past month (+0.3% versus -1.4%) and it looks like the stock is poised for strong performance in 2019. The integrated behemoth's recent results have been driven by robust commodity prices and higher downstream earnings. Shell’s upstream unit profit has rebounded strongly thanks to steady commodity price recovery, while the integrated gas business — consisting of BG Group activities — impressed on the back of pricing gains. Importantly, the Anglo-Dutch company's position as a key supplier of LNG should benefit its long-term cash flow growth. Consequently, Shell is likely to offer substantial upside from the current price levels and is viewed as a preferred supermajor to own now.”

Smart & Final Stores (NYSE:SFS) was upgraded by analysts at Morgan Stanley from an underweight rating to an equal weight rating.

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