Stock Analysts’ upgrades for Thursday, September 14th:

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. In a major setback, J&J terminated its HCV agreement and Achillion lost a strong and experienced partner and source of funds. The HCV market represents huge commercial potential. Moreover, Merck is also developing similar therapy for HCV genotype infections. However, the company has shown progress in developing Factor D inhibitors. Meanwhile, shares have underperformed the industry so far this year.”

Accenture PLC (NYSE:ACN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $151.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Accenture offers management consultancy, technology and outsourcing services. Shares of the company have outperformed the industry over the past year. We are positive about Accenture’s latest product additions in the analytics application space, given the increasing demand for digital solutions. Moreover, Accenture’s strategy of growing through partnerships like Apple and acquisitions like VERAX are encouraging. The strategies have enabled Accenture to enter new markets, diversify and broaden its product portfolio, and maintain its leading position. Nonetheless, Accenture’s recent announcement of creating 15K new jobs by 2020 and investment plan of $1.4 billion for employee training and opening of 10 innovation centers across the U.S. cities may dent its bottom-line results in our opinion. Furthermore, increasing competition from peers and an uncertain macroeconomic environment may deter its growth to some extent.”

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $112.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry year to date. The company is well poised to benefit from impressive inorganic growth and restructuring initiatives. Better industry fundamentals, with strong pricing and a higher renewal ratio, should drive overall growth. Consistent price increase in property and casualty business, combined ratio that compares favorably with industry average, a strong balance sheet, low leverage cost, and disciplined capital management are positives. Based on strong operational performance, it raised core net operating earnings of $6.40–$6.90 per share in 2017. Estimates for 2017 and 2018 also moved north over the last 60 days.  However, American Financial’s exposure to cat loss is a risk to underwriting results. A still soft interest rate environment is expected to weigh on desired upside in investment results.”

AAR Corp. (NYSE:AIR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “AAR Corp. is the largest independent maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider in North America. Moving ahead, rising air traffic is expected to accelerate maintenance spending on aircraft significantly and drive the MRO services growth cycle. However, AAR Corp.’s share price underperformed the broader market over the last year. Again, a comparative analysis of the company’s P/E ratio reflects a relatively gloomy picture that might be a cause for its investors’ concern. Also, the company operates in a highly competitive space and is subject to stringent government regulations. Any negative revision in the defense budget could also dampen its top line.”

AMTEK (NYSE:AME) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $73.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “AMETEK is a leading manufacturer of electronic appliances and electromechanical devices. The company posted better-than-expected second-quarter 2017 results surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate on earnings and revenues. AMETEK continues to reap the benefits from the execution of its four core growth strategies of operational excellence, global market expansion, investments in product development and strategic acquisitions. This, in combination with a strong portfolio of differentiated businesses, is expected to help the company post better results, going forward. However, weakness in its balance sheet and integration issues and an overly high goodwill associated with an aggressive acquisition strategy are concerns. Foreign exchange headwinds remain. Year to date, the stock has underperformed the  industry it belongs to.”

Amphenol Corporation (NYSE:APH) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $92.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Amphenol is benefiting from improved end-market demand, new product rollouts, and market share gains. A balanced organic and inorganic growth model, a lean and flexible cost structure, and an agile and entrepreneurial management team augur well for its long-term growth perspectives. The company outperformed the industry year to date. Management also raised its earlier guidance for 2017. However, bulk of the company’s revenues comes from sales to the communications industry, demand for which is subject to rapid technological change. Furthermore, increasing cost of raw materials is also a matter of concern and is likely to be an additional drag on profitability. In addition, unfavorable movement in foreign currency exchange rates often adversely impact sales, thereby affecting its long-term growth to some extent.”

American Water Works (NYSE:AWK) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Year to date shares of American Water Works Company have gained higher than the industry. American Water Works continues to add customers and expand its market reach through acquisitions and organic growth. Year to date, the water utility has added 22,000 customers through closed acquisitions and organic growth. Thanks to its ongoing capital expenditure we expect the company to improve its water and wastewater systems, providing efficient services to its expanding customer base.  Unimpressive performance in the market-based businesses has proved detrimental to the company’s earnings. It is subject to stringent regulations, fluctuating weather patterns and risk of accidents due to old and soiled pipelines.”

Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $33.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Bed Bath & Beyond  is focused on strategic initiatives like e-Commerce enhancement and improvement of customer services, as also evident from its recent store realigment plan. Also, comps from customer-facing digital networks grew over 20% in the last reported quarter. Additionally, Bed Bath & Beyond’s capital initiatives and constant shareholder-friendly moves should draw investors’ attention. However, the company has lagged the broader industry in the past year owing to its unimpressive past performances. Well, Bed Bath & Beyond has been reeling under sluggish mall traffic that has been intensifying with increasing shift toward online shopping. Also, margins have been pressurized for four quarters now, owing to increased expenses. Additionally, the company's global presence keeps it exposed to currency woes. Unfortunately, management's dismal view for fiscal 2017 raises concerns about these obstacles to linger.”

BorgWarner (NYSE:BWA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $53.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Zacks Consensus Estimate for BorgWarner’s annual earnings has been going up of late. High organic net sales growth expectations are likely to aid the company going forward. Huge business opportunities in Asia, the Americas and Europe in the next three years are anticipated to contribute to a major portion of its growth. Moreover, a healthy balance sheet and ample cash flow helps BorgWarner to return capital to its shareholders’ and undertake acquisitions.”

Dun & Bradstreet Corporation (The) (NYSE:DNB) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $124.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “We continue to expect that Dun & Bradstreet will benefit from its high-margin business model and strong product portfolio. Its partnerships with big players have also helped it bring many more customers into the fold. Plus, the company is also well-positioned to gain from its strategic acquisitions and alliances. The company’s focus on expanding analytics capabilities is also a positive. Plus, cost savings resulted in a strong operating margin performance in the last reported quarter. Management has now raised the lower end of its operating margin growth for the year. However, stiff competition, weak DNBi business and high debt continue to remain areas of concerns. Shares have underperformed the broader market in the past one year.”

Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE:FMX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $111.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “FEMSA outperformed the broader industry in the year so far. The company is on track to drive growth through strategic measures, including increasing store count, diversifying business portfolio and focusing on core business activities. Further, its exposure in various industries including beverage, beer and retail, gives it an edge over competitors. Also, FEMSA's strong cash flow generation capacity enables it to make incremental investments in business expansion. However, second-quarter 2017 results marked its fourth consecutive earnings miss, while sales lagged estimates for the second straight time. Moreover, the company continued to witness margin pressures due to decline in margins at Coca-Cola FEMSA and lower-margin businesses growth at FEMSA Comercio, as well as higher operating expenses at Coca-Cola FEMSA and FEMSA Comercio’s Health division. Nevertheless, FEMSA's focus on achieving growth via acquisitions bode well.”

Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $107.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Hasbro‘s earnings have topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate in all the trailing 10 quarters. Revenues too have been surpassing the consensus mark, except for the last quarter. Consistent efforts to establish its global presence via strategic partnerships and rapid growth in emerging markets should continue driving the top- and bottom–line performance. Going forward, the Franchise and Partner Brands, particularly, are expected to perform consistently in 2017 given global digital content and innovative offerings. Yet, rising competition from alternative modes of entertainment might limit top-line growth, while high costs along with macroeconomic and currency headwinds may dent profits. Even so, this year’s rich content slate, new product launches, various sales boosting initiatives along with a favorable gaming portfolio is likely to drive growth ahead. “

Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (The) (NYSE:HIG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $60.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Year to date,  shares of Hartford Financial have outperformed the industry. The company is well poised for long-term growth, given its strong foothold in the property and casualty market. The recent interest rate hikes have significantly favored the company’s investment results, boosting its top line in turn. Moreover, the company has taken up several action plans to improve its risk profile which are likely to drive the company's underwriting results going forward. Efficient capital management also helps it in enhancing shareholders' value through several capital deployment activities. The company has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimates for 2017 and 2018 earnings being revised upward in last 60 days.”

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $41.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Intel’s growing focus on the data-centric part of the business is positive. The launch of Xeon Scalable is anticipated to improve its footprint in the data center as well as AI space, going forward. The company recently unveiled Myriad X, which will boost footprint in the IoT space. Moreover, the recent Core 8 launch will boost PC market share amid intensifying competition from AMD. We note that the top-PC makers like HP, Lenovo, and Asus are set to launch PCs based on Qualcomm’s ARM-based Snapdragon processor, which is a headwind for the company. Further, anticipated improvement in cost structure and lower spending, primarily due to improving operational efficiency will aid in expansion of margins going forward. Additionally, aggressive share buyback will boost the bottom line in 2017. However, we note that Intel has underperformed the industry on a year-to-date basis. Moreover, declining PC-shipments is a concern.”

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $132.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Monsanto's shares have outperformed the industry in a year's time. The company reported better-than-expected results for third-quarter fiscal 2017. Increasing demand for crop-yield enhancing products, such as Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans, and launch of non-imitable technological solutions are likely to boost the company's top-line performance, moving ahead. Further, robust top-line performance, higher planted acreage, as well as lower U.S. corn and soybean costs are expected to bolster bottom-line results in near term. Also, the successful accomplishment of Bayer's buyout deal is anticipated to open up a number of opportunities for Monsanto. Over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the stock moved north for fiscal 2018.”

Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $96.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Motorola Solutions have outperformed its industry in the past year. The company has an impressive track record with respect to earnings having surpassed estimates in each of the preceding four quarters. We expect the company to deliver impressive bottom-line performances in the coming quarters as well, driven by its strong product portfolio. In keeping with its growth-by-acquisition strategy, the company recently completed the acquisition of Kodiak Networks. The buyout has strengthened its software product portfolio. However, though positive on Motorola's growth by acquisition strategy, we note that costs associated with the mergers are limiting bottom-line growth. Moreover, currency related headwinds might hurt the stock going forward. The company's high debt levels also remain a concern.”

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE:MTU) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $7.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Mitsubishi UFJ’s shares underperformed the industry on NYSE over the last six months. Though the negative interest rates in Japan and global growth concerns, along with strict regulations, remain headwinds, strong capital ratios and organic growth will likely support the company’s bottom-line growth. Also, the company’s prospects look encouraging, as it remains focused on several strategies under its medium-term business plan (2016–2018) and global expansion.”

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $299.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “As one of the top largest U.S. defense contractors, Northrop continues to enjoy strong presence in Air Force, Space & Cyber Security programs. Moreover, its product innovation and focus on strengthening its ISR wing will help maintain a stable earnings stream amid the rapidly changing needs of the defense landscape. The company maintains a strong balance sheet and steady cash flow that offer substantial financial flexibility. With rising demand for arsenals across the globe, foreign military sales continue to be a major growth driver for Northrop. However, challenging economic and political factors have been raising concerns. Moreover, too much dependence on fixed-price contracts remains a concern for the stock.”

Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $59.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Oracle is benefiting from significant momentum in the SaaS and PaaS offerings. We believe the company’s growing cloud market share will continue to drive top-line growth for the foreseeable future. The stock has outperformed the industry on a year-to-date basis driven by these factors. The recent collaboration with Mitshubishi and addition of AI and machine learning features in  Internet of Things (IoT) Cloud offerings is positive. NetSuite continues to expand customer base and was recently named as a leader among B2B commerce suites for midsize organizations by Forrester Wave report. Meanwhile, estimates have been going up lately ahead of the company's Q1 earnings release. The company has mixed record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. However, higher investments on IaaS will affect gross margin expansion in the near-term.”

Verifone Systems (NYSE:PAY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “VeriFone’s third-quarter fiscal 2017 results were unimpressive. Earnings were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate but declined on a year-over-year basis due to weak top-line growth. The decline can be attributed to sluggishness in the Asia-Pacific and North America regions. This was partially offset by strong revenue growth in Latin America and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Management expects this weakness to continue, which along with the taxi business divestiture, compelled it to lower fiscal 2017 guidance. Notably, the stock has underperformed the industry on a year-to-date basis. However, the company believes that strength in retail and SMB will help the North America segment revenues to recover going forward. We believe that the company's strong product portfolio that now includes the likes of Carbon 8 and Engage will help in expanding customer base in the long haul.”

PVH Corp. (NYSE:PVH) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $143.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “PVH Corp. has outperformed the industry year to date driven by its superb earnings history and brand strength. The company posted better-than-expected earnings and sales results for second-quarter fiscal 2017. While sales marked its fourth consecutive beat, earnings retained its positive surprise trend for the 13th straight time. Results continued to gain from solid momentum at its Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, particularly in the international regions. Further, the company raised earnings outlook for fiscal 2017. However, concerns regarding the volatile macroeconomic and geopolitical environment remain. While currency rates improved in second quarter, currency headwinds are expected to hurt fiscal 2017 earnings by 20 cents per share. Apart from this, a volatile retail scenario and greater marketing costs may hurt performance. Nonetheless, the company’s efforts to keep pace with the evolving consumer trends bode well.”

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $83.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Papa John’s has been posting positive comps in both domestic and international markets over the past several quarters. Going forward, comps growth is likely to persist on the back of menu innovation and value offers. Its commitment to provide quality food is expected to continue appealing the health conscious customers. Increased focus on digital innovation may further aid in attracting customers and drive growth and efficiency. Strategic partnerships, large scale expansion plans and increased focus on franchising bode well too. Its strong free cash flow position and willingness to return wealth to shareholders through buybacks and dividends also raise confidence. However, higher costs, negative currency translation and a challenging sales environment in the U.S. restaurant space raises concern. Meanwhile, though Papa John’s shares have underperformed the industry in the last year, positive estimate revisions reflect analyst optimism.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $137.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Royal Caribbean shares have outpaced the industry in the past year. Given solid performance in the last reported quarter along with favorable booking trends, the company raised its full-year 2017 earnings view. Going forward, the company’s sailings in the U.S., Europe, Alaska, Baltic and Asia, are likely to continue performing strongly. The company thus remains positioned to witness another record year and achieve its targets under the Double-Double program. However, higher costs might hurt the company’s profitability in the near term. Further, lingering global uncertainties in key operating regions, along with negative currency translation remain concerns. Even so, its capacity growth should aid in meeting increased demand while ship innovation and technology investments should lead to higher yields.”

Regency Centers Corporation (NYSE:REG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $71.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Regency have underperformed its industry year to date. However, the stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current-year funds from operations (FFO) per share being revised upward in a month’s time. It did not report any significant damage from the recent hurricanes. The company’s focus on building a premium portfolio of grocery-anchored shopping centers, which are usually necessity-driven, along with the presence of leading grocers in its tenant roaster, augurs well. Also, Regency’s merger with Equity One elevated the company’s position in the retail real estate market and offered it a host of opportunities to drive growth. It created a high-quality portfolio of 429 properties, mainly grocery anchored, situated in several top markets. Yet, the recent efforts of online retailers to go deeper into the grocery business have emerged as a pressing concern for this REIT. Also, rate hike add to its woes.”

Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $69.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Ross Stores outperformed the broader industry in the past month. It has a positive record of earnings surprises in 12 of the trailing 13 quarters. In second-quarter fiscal 2017, both the top and bottom lines topped estimates and improved year over year. Results gained from solid top-line growth that was driven by broad-based growth across all merchandise categories and regions. Further, better-than-expected sales and operating profits at dd's DISCOUNTS aided results. Concluding first-half fiscal 2017 on a strong note, the company provided guidance for the second half and accordingly raised earnings view for fiscal 2017. This led to an uptrend in estimates for fiscal 2017. Moreover, its solid financial status, ongoing merchandise initiatives and consistent focus on store expansion bode well. However, the company anticipates witnessing the most challenging year-ago comparisons in second-half fiscal 2017, alongside a volatile retail backdrop.”

Torchmark Corporation (NYSE:TMK) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $86.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Torchmark’s niche market focus, steady capital deployment and strong operating fundamentals should drive long-term growth. The life insurer estimates life and health sales growth in distribution channels. Also, a strong capital position and robust capital management are key positives. Torchmark now expects net operating income between $4.70 per share and $4.80 per share in 2017 banking on better than expected underwriting income and an increase in investment income, life underwriting income to increase between 2% and 4% while health underwriting income to increase between 1% and 3%. The company has also seen estimates moving north in the last 60 days. However, higher administrative expenses, pension costs and investments in IT systems will likely be a drag on Torchmark’s earnings in the near term. Shares of Torchmark also underperformed the industry year to date.”

Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $214.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Over the last three months, Thermo Fisher is trading above the broader industry. Thermo Fisher ended the second quarter on a promising note. We are particularly upbeat about the company gaining entry into the CDMO market through the recent acquistion of Patheon for $7.2 billion. We are also encouraged by the company’s series of product launches along with major progress in precision medicine initiatives. Thermo Fisher’s acquisition of FEI Company has already started to boost its analytical instruments portfolio. The company also opened Center of Excellence for electron microscopy in Saudi Arabia. The raised 2017 guidance is all the more encouraging indicating the fact that this overall bullish trend will continue through the year.”

Receive News & Ratings for Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.