Stock Analysts’ upgrades for Tuesday, July 18th:

Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACHN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Achillion has no approved product in its portfolio and focuses on developing small molecule therapeutics to treat infectious and complement-mediated diseases. The complement-mediated space is highly crowded as biotech companies are working on bringing these treatments to market. However this area has potential for commercial opportunity. Meanwhile, Achillion’s deal with J&J for its HCV portfolio provides the company with a strong and experienced partner and will also bring in funds. The HCV market also represents huge commercial potential.However, Merck is also developing similar therapy for HCV genotype infections. Also, we remain concerned about the early-stage nature of the complement Factor D pipeline and dependence on collaboration for funds. Estimates have remained mostly stable lately ahead of the Q2 results. The company has a mixed record of earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

Acxiom Corporation (NASDAQ:ACXM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Acxiom has emerged as a formidable player in the field of marketing services and technology over the years. With continued solid contributions from LiveRamp, the company is striving to improve the functionality of its products across all channels and devices. The newly launched IdentityLink is an important product addition, which improves company's growth prospects. However, the company operates in a competitive landscape that is becoming more complex with low barriers to entry. Moreover, weakness in the marketing services segment remains a concern. Notably, the stock has underperformed the Zacks categorized IT Services market on a year-to-date basis. Meanwhile, estimates have been stable lately ahead of the company's Q1 earnings release. The company has mixed record of earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

Alexandria Real Estate Equities (NYSE:ARE) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $136.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Alexandria outperformed the Zacks-categorized REIT and Equity Trust – Other industry over the past six months. Its estimates for funds from operations (FFO) per share have remained stable lately, ahead of the company’s second-quarter earnings release. The company enjoys high occupancy, which is driven by high demand for its Class A properties in premium locations. Also, robust cash flow and solid balance sheet are its strengths. Further in July, the company announced the creation of the Alexandria Center for AgTech – RTP. It is the initial phase of a premier multi-tenant mega campus in the Research Triangle Park, NC. Moreover, during the first quarter, S&P Dow Jones Indices included Alexandria in the S&P 500 Index. However, rise in rate of interest and foreign currency fluctuations remain its risks.”

Beacon Roofing Supply (NASDAQ:BECN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Beacon Roofing Supply expects revenues to grow in the range of 6–9% year over year in fiscal 2017 and adjusted earnings per share to be around $2.34. The company will continue to focus on revenue growth, both organically and through acquisitions while improving margins and operating expense leverage in fiscal 2017. Further, it will benefit from roofing and re-roofing demand. However, the timing of these replacement decisions can vary due to economic factors and weather conditions. The company’s performance will be hurt by seasonality in business and low asphalt shingle demand. Beacon Roofing has underperformed the Zacks sub-industry’s growth in the past one year.”

Century Aluminum (NASDAQ:CENX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $20.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Estimates for Century Aluminum have been going up of late. The company has outperformed the Zacks categorized Metal Procurement & Fabrication industry over a year. Century Aluminum is implementing a number of actions to reduce costs and preserve cash amid a weak operating environment. It should also gain from strong aluminum demand across automotive and aerospace markets in its key regions, North America and China, as well as acquisitions. Moreover, the company has low debt and short-term obligations which will help it remain strong in an adverse environment.”

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Cisco Systems is the leading provider of IP-based networking and other products. Nevertheless, intensifying competition from several smaller players, slowing order growth from service providers and challenges in the emerging markets are the primary headwinds. We note, the company has underperformed the S&P 500 index on a year-to-date basis. Revenues are expected to decline due to lower order growth in the reported quarter, which affected backlog. Nonetheless, we believe Cisco’s expanding footprint in the rapidly growing security and data center market are promising. Estimates have been stable ahead of the company's Q4 earnings release. The company has positive record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters. Moreover, partnerships with the likes of Pure Storage, salesforce.com and IBM will help Cisco to gain signficant traction in the data center, cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) market in the long haul.”

Continental AG (OTCMKTS:CTTAY) was upgraded by analysts at Natixis from a neutral rating to a buy rating.

Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “DICK’S Sporting has underperformed the Zacks Categorized industry in the last three months. This could be largely due to the soft performance in first-quarter fiscal 2017. However, the company is persistently gaining from the consolidation in the sporting goods space, and opportunities arising from the liquidation of rival firms. Further, a robust e-commerce performance, continued market share gains and its latest merchandising strategy bode well. Also, the potential liquidation of Gander Mountain should boost DICK’S Sporting’s market share, though it may hurt third-quarter sales. Given this short-term hurdle and the current trends, management tweaked its fiscal 2017 sales view, while retaining its earnings outlook. Macroeconomic hurdles also remain a concern. Second quarter estimate has stable lately ahead of the earnings release. Further the company has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

Dover Corporation (NYSE:DOV) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $95.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Dover expects its earnings per share for full-year 2017 will be in the range of $4.05–$4.20 and revenue growth to be in the range of 11–13%. Within Energy segment, Dover expects that stronger-than-expected U.S. rig count deployment, along with increasing well completion activity will result in higher full-year revenue growth. It anticipates that the Printing & Identification platform will continue to deliver consistent solid performance. Further, the company expects food equipment to have a solid year. The recent acquisition of Caldera will extend its position in digital textile printing. Moreover, Dover is poised to benefit from strategic acquisitions, robust hygienic and pharma markets, strong bookings activity and recovery in the North American rig count.”

DexCom (NASDAQ:DXCM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “In the past one year, DexCom has underperformed the broader industry in terms of price. Furthermore, a disappointing estimate revision trend indicates looming concerns ahead. DexCom reported narrower-than-expected loss in the first quarter. We believe the company’s margins will continue to be under pressure in the coming quarters owing to high product development costs and rising expenditures on research & development. Specifically, the company is expected to have lower margins on transmitter sales (in spite of the cost reduction initiatives). Additionally, cutthroat competition in the market for blood glucose monitoring devices is a major headwind. On the positive side, the glucose monitoring market represents significant commercial opportunity for DexCom. The company has also signed collaborative agreements with several companies, which should not only bring in cash but also help expand its product portfolio.”

Epizyme (NASDAQ:EPZM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $16.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Epizyme's efforts on developing its lead candidate, tazemetostat, for a number of hematological malignancies and genetically defined solid tumors are impressive. Additionally, its attempts to evaluate tazemetostat in combination with anti-PD 1 or PDL-1 agent are also encouraging. We believe, the  company’s collaboration agreement with Celgene for small-molecule HMT inhibitors including pinometostat is a big positive. Epizyme’s share price has also outperformed the Zacks classified Medical/Biomedical Genetics industry year to date. However, with no approved product in its portfolio, Epizyme is highly dependent on its collaboration partners for top-line growth. Loss estimates have narrowed mostly stable lately ahead of the Q2 results. Epizyme has a positive record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters.”

Equity Residential (NYSE:EQR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $74.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Equity Residential outperformed the Zacks categorized REIT and Equity Trust – Residential industry over the past three months. Moreover, estimates have been stable lately ahead of the company’s second quarter earnings release. Moving ahead, Equity Residential is expected to benefit from its efforts to reposition its portfolio in high barrier-to-entry/core markets, favorable demographics, lifestyle transformation and creation of new households. The company’s current focus is on the acquisition and development of assets primarily in six core coastal metropolitan areas – Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Southern California (including Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego), San Francisco and Seattle.  Also, there is solid rental demand through the nation’s coastal gateway cities. But amid high apartment supply, new lease rates is likely to remain under pressure.”

Essex Property Trust (NYSE:ESS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $289.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Essex Property outperformed the Zacks categorized REIT and Equity Trust – Residential industry over the past three months. Additionally, funds from operations (FFO) per share estimates for second-quarter and full-year 2017 moved north over the past 30 days. With a strong property base and solid balance sheet, Essex is likely to leverage on favorable demographic trends in its markets. The company’s substantial exposure to the West Coast market, which is home to several innovation and technology companies, offers ample scope to boost its top line over the long term. Moreover, it has a 23-year history of increasing cash dividend. However, there have been consistent apartment deliveries in its markets. This could adversely affect the pricing power of the company in the near term.”

Edwards Lifesciences Corporation (NYSE:EW) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $130.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Over the last three months, Edwards Lifesciences has outperformed the Zacks categorized Medical – Instruments industry. We believe several recent FDA approvals received by the company including its SAPIEN 3 THV for valve-in-valve procedures and INSPIRIS RESILIA aortic valve have been boosting the investors’ confidence over the stock. Also, Edwards Lifesciences’ long-term growth strategy buoys optimism. The company’s focus on bulding its pipeline to strengthen its foothold across all its operating businesses is also encouraging. However, higher operating expenses continue to be a woe. The stock’s valuation also remains stretched on huge investments in the launch and promotion of products. Stiff competition, currency headwind and reimbursement issues are other challenges.”

GlaxoSmithKline PLC (NYSE:GSK) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $47.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Glaxo should continue to see strong performances by all of its business segments – Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines and Consumer Healthcare. We are positive on Glaxo’s efforts to develop its pipeline as well. Performance of new products as well as of those acquired from Novartis has been encouraging. However, persistent challenges like stiff competition, genericization and pricing pressure along with slowing growth in emerging markets have been affecting the company’s performance. In particular, pricing dynamics and competitive pressure are hurting sales of its top-selling drug Advair. Meanwhile, Advair is expected to face generic competition in the U.S. soon which will further hurt sales. However, estimates have risen ahead of Glaxo’s Q2 earnings release. The company also recorded a string of positive earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

Hancock Holding (NASDAQ:HBHC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $56.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Hancock’s shares outpaced the Zacks categorized Southeast Banks industry in the last one year. Estimates have been going down ahead of the company’s second-quarter 2017 earnings release. The company has positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. The company’s strategic initiatives on the back of several investments are expected to accelerate revenue generation, going forward. Moreover, the company’s acquisition of the First NBC Bank branches is expected to be accretive to earnings. However, continued pressure on net interest margin and exposure to risky loan portfolios are major near term concerns for the company.”

Immune Design Corp (NASDAQ:IMDZ) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $11.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Immune Design’s primary candidates, CMB305 is being evaluated for soft tissue sarcoma and G100 for Merkel cell carcinoma , follicular non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and sarcoma. The company expects to provide data this year on both the lead product candidate from both monotherapy and combination studies to support their potential registration paths towards commercialization. We are positive on its strategic agreements with companies like Sanofi, Roche, and Merck, which not only validate its GLAAS platform, but also provide the company with funds in the form of collaboration and license revenues. The company’s shares have outperformed the Medical-Drugs industry year to date. Loss estimates have remained mostly stable lately ahead of the Q2 results. The company has a mixed record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters.”

ITT (NYSE:ITT) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $46.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “ITT Inc. has a robust earnings surprise history, having beaten estimates thrice in the trailing four quarters. The company’s focus on business streamlining, cost controls and efficiency continues to prove beneficial to its financial performance. ITT Inc.’s diversified operations across key end markets adds to its strength. The company’s bottom line is expected to benefit from improved operating efficiency and successful cost containment actions. Further, ITT Inc.’s shares have outperformed the Zacks categorized Diversified Operations industry average over the past year. ITT Inc. has achieved operational excellence through its Lean Six Sigma program, restructuring initiatives and global sourcing efforts. However, softness in industrial, oil & gas markets and aerospace and defense business is expected to affect client spending adversely, thus restricting the company’s growth to a great extent.”

Jack In The Box (NASDAQ:JACK) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Jack in the Box makes regular menu innovations and plans to continue focusing on improving guest experience at both brands via operational excellence. It has a mostly positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. The premium and value offerings at Jack in the Box along with focus on breakfast menu to combat competition bode well. Yet, comps at Qdoba have been suffering due to poor restaurant level execution. A soft industry backdrop and higher costs remain concerns too. Notably, Jack in the Box’s shares have underperformed the Zacks categorized Retail-Restaurants industry year-to-date. Estimates too have moved slightly down ahead of its fiscal third quarter earnings release. Nonetheless, expansion of third-party delivery channels at both brands should increase transactions. Efforts to reinvigorate Qdoba along with management’s plan of even considering alternatives to the brand bode well too.”

J.C. Penney Company, Inc. Holding (NYSE:JCP) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a buy rating. They currently have $5.75 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “J. C. Penney shares, which have underperformed the industry in the past six months, recently took a sharp U turn after the company informed that the sales performance has improved in the second quarter of fiscal 2017. Moreover, the company whose top line has missed the estimate in the trailing five quarters announced that it expects to post substantial improvement in sales in the second quarter in comparison with the first quarter. Further, in an effort to lure more customers and ramp up sales, management has introduced new loyalty program. These along with remodeling, renovation and refurbishment of stores with special attention on enhancing the reach of national and especially private-label brands looks promising. J. C. Penney is also gradually increasing the count of Sephora stores. However, the impact of challenging retail landscape, high debt level, stiff competition from online retailers, and waning store traffic concerns linger.”

The Middleby Corporation (NASDAQ:MIDD) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $142.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “On a month-to-date basis, Middleby’s shares have outperformed the Zacks categorized Machinery-General Industrial industry. The company’s earnings and revenues in first-quarter 2017 improved 29.9% and 2.7%, respectively on a year–over-year basis. Sturdy demand from chain restaurant customers is anticipated to strengthen the company’s Commercial Foodservice Equipment business in the quarters ahead. Also, Middleby is poised to grow on the back of greater operational efficacy, diligent acquisitions and strategic restructuring moves. Over the last 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the stock moved north for both 2017 and 2018.”

Maxwell Technologies (NASDAQ:MXWL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Maxwell leads the growing ultracapacitor market and benefits from increasing demand for its utility infrastructure, renewable energy, public transportation and space programs. It has also completed its restructuring initiatives, which called for focus on high-growth opportunities, the sale of non-core assets, consolidation of U.S. manufacturing units and a reduction in operating costs by lowering headcount. However, Maxwell's share price has underperformed the Zacks categorized Electronics-Miscellaneous Components industry price over the last one year due to uncertainty associated with the China bus market as well as short-term changes in the Chinese government's deployment strategy for wind turbines, which is affecting Maxwell’s wind market revenues. Again, the company’s dependence on a limited number of customers and vertical markets remains a major challenge.”

Oasis Petroleum (NYSE:OAS) was upgraded by analysts at William Blair from a hold rating to a buy rating.

Paylocity Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:PCTY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $53.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Paylocity offers cloud-based payroll and HCM software solutions to medium-sized organizations. Estimates have been stable lately ahead of the company’s Q4 earnings release. The company has positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. We remain positive about Paylocity’s regular investments in SaaS technology. For the last few quarters, clients moving from traditional payroll service providers to the company’s SaaS-based services contributed significantly to its revenues. Hence, regular investments in technological upgrades, along with product innovation, will continue to boost the company’s top line. Such initiatives should also drive its forthcoming results. Also, higher adoption of Paylocity’s ACA dashboard application, specializing in tracking employee count, employee status and health care plan affordability, will act as a tailwind. Paylocity has outperformed the broader market in the last one year.”

Pinnacle West Capital Corporation (NYSE:PNW) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Pinnacle West Capital is well positioned to reap the benefits of ongoing economic improvement in its service territories. Better economic prospects, increase in the customer count and higher customer spending are expected to drive earnings. The company is also expanding its renewable generation portfolio. Shares of Pinnacle West have outperformed Zacks categorized Utility-Electric Power industry in the last six months. However, the company is subject to comprehensive regulations by federal, state and local regulatory agencies. In addition, its operations are subject to fluctuations in commodity price, as well as operational risks and hazards. Cost of complying with new regulations could increase cost of operations while failure to meet the same might impact its business plans.”

Restoration Hardware Holdings (NYSE:RH) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “RH’s shares widely outperformed the Zacks categorized Retail-Home Furnishings industry year to date. The company’s efforts to redesign its supply chain network, rationalize product offerings and the Waterworks acquisition are expected to boost growth. Initiatives like RH Modern, RH Teen, RH Hospitality, the redesign of RH Interiors Source Book, the rollout of Design Ateliers across the company’s retail Galleries are expected to contribute to growth in 2017 and beyond. Though RH’s plans to rationalize product offering, reduce inventories and boost free cash flow will drive revenues and cash flow, it is expected to dent earnings in 2017. Also, higher dependence on imports makes it vulnerable to uncertain macro conditions.”

Rexnord Corporation (NYSE:RXN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Year to date, shares of Rexnord Corporation have outperformed the Zacks categorized Machinery Electrical industry. We believe that the company has the potential to expand its businesses by leveraging the accelerated demand from non-residential construction markets in the U.S. and from the global food and beverage end markets. For fiscal 2018, the company anticipates benefiting from innovation of new products, cost-control measures and strengthening consumer driven end markets. Also, it is on track to complete its supply-chain optimization and footprint-repositioning programs in first-quarter fiscal 2018, realizing annualized cost-savings of $30 million. However, the company is exposed to industry rivalry, forex woes and uncertain economic conditions. In the last 60 days, the stock’s earnings estimates decreased for 2017 while remained stable for 2018.”

SolarEdge Technologies (NASDAQ:SEDG) was upgraded by analysts at CIBC from a market perform rating to an outperform rating.

TJX Companies, Inc. (The) (NYSE:TJX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $79.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “TJX Companies has undertaken various initiatives to boost sales. The company has an aggressive store opening strategy and has reported positive comps growth in the last 32 quarters, driven by higher traffic. The company’s fresh stock and widespread sourcing machinery has helped it maintain a loyal customer base. Also, its aggressive marketing and advertising campaigns through multiple mediums have been driving store traffic. Meanwhile, it remains on track to boost online sales, along with the intent to add more categories to the online shopping site. Moreover, the company takes shareholder friendly-moves through dividends and share buybacks. Although TJX Companies’ shares have declined in the last three months due to higher payroll and pension related costs, which are pressurizing margins; its performance has been in line with the industry. Estimates have been largely stable ahead of its second-quarter fiscal 2018 earnings release.”

Textron (NYSE:TXT) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $55.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Textron’s geographically diverse network of businesses negates any specific business risk. Its systematic inorganic growth strategy, along with its focus on strengthening international presence, will improve its growth trajectory. Textron’s latest acquisition of Arctic Cat has boosted its position in the power-sports segment as well as utility vehicle market, courtesy of Arctic Cat’s established dealer network. Going forward, management expects Arctic Cat to contribute $400-$500 million of sales for the company in 2017. In terms of new product offerings, the company began delivering on its new ELiTE series lithium golf cars recently. However, Textron’s Bell continues to be a drag on the company’s overall top-line performance.”

CVR Partners, (NYSE:UAN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Earnings estimates for CVR Partners for the second quarter have been stable of late. CVR Partners remains committed to ramp up its UAN production capacity. The company should also benefit from the Rentech Nitrogen acquisition and healthy demand for nitrogen fertilizers in 2017. However, CVR Partners has underperformed the Zacks categorized Fertilizers industry over the last six months. The company remains exposed to headwinds from weak nitrogen fertilizer prices. Abundant nitrogen supply driven by new production capacity is expected weigh on global prices this year. The company also faces intense price competition.”

Williams Partners (NYSE:WPZ) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $46.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Williams Partners’ natural gas infrastructure assets comprise the fastest growing pipeline networks that carry the highest volumes of natural gas in the U.S. from the best supply basins in North America. We appreciate the partnership’s intention of allocating capital budget toward the expansion of the Transco pipeline system that will provide stable fee-based revenues. In Apr 2017, Williams Partners announced plans to divest its Geismar Olefins plant for almost $2.1 billion. The proceeds will likely get utilized for funding growth projects and also for clearing debt. Also, the divestment of the Olefins plant reflects the partnership’s strategy of shifting focus primarily toward the stable fee-based natural gas transportation business.”

W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “W.R. Berkley has been investing in a number of startups since 2006 as well as establishing new units, which enables it to take advantage of an improved market scenario. Formation of operating units in North and Southeast Asia is in tandem with the strategy. Also, the divestment of wholly owned investment is expected to enhance long term shareholder’s value. Its international business has potential for long-term earnings growth. Reserving discipline and strong capital position are other positives. However, exposures to highly competitive insurance market along with low interest rate scenario and cat losses are dampeners. Also, shares of W.R. Berkley underperformed the Zacks categorized Property and Casualty industry, year to date. It is set to release its second quarter results on Jul 25. A Zacks Rank #3 increases the predictive power of a beat, but combined with the Earnings ESP of -5.41%, makes prediction difficult.”

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