Research Analysts’ upgrades for Thursday, October 12th:

Aetna (NYSE:AET) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $174.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Aetna’s shares outperformed the industry year to date. We expect the company to derive long-term growth from its Government business. Cost-reduction initiatives and growing ACO collaborations pave the way for long-term growth. A strong balance sheet is another positive. Its International expansion is also perceived as an opportunity in the face of increased regulation in the U.S. Following strong second-quarter results, Aetna rasied its earnings guidance which cements investors' confidence in the company. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised 6.3% upward over the last 90 days. Aetna has, however, been incurring losses in its public exchange business and has been exiting exchanges to avoid losses from this business. Furthermore, its membership growth remains under pressure. Increasing medical benefit ratios are also likely to hurt margins.”

CSX Corporation (NASDAQ:CSX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of CSX Corporation have outperformed its industry on a year-to-date basis on the back of improving coal volumes. We expect the same to boost its third-quarter results, which is scheduled to be revealed on Oct 17. Meanwhile, the company is looking to drive bottom-line growth by cutting costs. Driven by improved efficiencies, CSX expects the bottom line to expand between 20% and 25% in 2017 on a year-over-year basis. In fact, we are impressed by the 11% dividend hike announced by CSX, earlier in 2017. The company's high debt levels, however, raise concerns. Sluggish automotive production presents a further challenge to the company. Recent service disruptions also do not bode well for CSX.”

LyondellBasell Industries NV (NYSE:LYB) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $110.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “LyondellBasell has outperformed the industry it belongs to over the last three months. The company is executing its expansion projects to leverage the U.S. natural gas liquids (NGLs) advantage. LyondellBasell's ethylene expansion initiatives and the HDPE project on the U.S. Gulf Coast should boost capacity and add to its earnings. It also remains committed to boosting shareholder returns by leveraging healthy cash flows.”

Packaging Corporation of America (NYSE:PKG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $132.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Packaging Corporation anticipates to realize benefit of the packaging segment price increases in the third quarter. It expects higher corrugated product shipments in 2017, driven by solid containerboard demand. The company also expects increase in demand in boxes driven by e-commerce growth. Packaging Corporation will gain from diverse product portfolio and progress in DeRidder mill. Its recent acquisiton of all assets of Sacramento Container, and 100% of the membership interests of Northern Sheets, and Central California Sheets will likely boost its operations both geographically and strategically. Increase in capital spending will also drive growth. Moreover, the stock outperformed the industry in the past year. Its estimates have gone up lately. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in the last few quarters.”

Western Alliance Bancorporation (NYSE:WAL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $60.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Western Alliance Bancorporation is the parent company of BankWest of Nevada, Alliance Bank of Arizona, Torrey Pines Bank, Miller/Russell & Associates, and Premier Trust. These dynamic companies provide a broad array of banking, leasing, trust, investment, and mortgage services to clients in Nevada, Arizona and California. Staffed with experienced financial professionals, these organizations deliver a broader product array and larger credit capacity than community banks, yet are empowered to be more responsive to customers’ needs than larger institutions. “

Wendy’s Company (The) (NASDAQ:WEN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Wendy’s shares have outpaced the industry year to date. Sales initiatives like menu innovation and promotional offerings are driving growth. Increased investments in technology should quicken service and thus, result in increased customer count. Reimaging of its restaurants is also expected to boost traffic and drive higher sales. Continual expansion of delivery service bodes well too. Yet, Wendy’s revenues have been declining year over year over the past few quarters due to reduced number of company-operated restaurants. Though Wendy’s transition to a franchise-based business model has been weighing on revenues, it is expected to lower Wendy’s general and administrative expenses and in turn boost earnings, 2017 onwards. Moreover, the company’s international business is poised to be a long-term growth driver. Yet, rising costs and a soft consumer spending environment in the U.S.restaurant space raises concern.”

Wentworth Resource Ord (NASDAQ:WENTF) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Wentworth Resources Ltd. is an oil & gas company with: natural gas production; exploration and appraisal opportunities; large-scale gas monetisation initiatives primarily in the Rovuma Delta Basin of coastal southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique. Wentworth Resources Ltd. is headquartered in Calgary, Canada. “

Wells Fargo & (NYSE:WFC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Wells Fargo have underperformed the industry year to date. However, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history. The company has surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in all the trailing four quarters. Wells Fargo plans $4 billion of cost cuts by 2019. Moreover, though lesser regulations on lending and capital levels are not expected any time soon, these are likely to reduce costs of compliance significantly and allow banks to grow lending. Further, rising rates are easing margin pressure to an extent. While the current crisis related to the revelation of illegally opening millions of illegal accounts last year at the company will take some time to alleviate, we believe that consistent growth in loans and deposits and expansions will likely support its growth profile.”

Windstream Holdings (NYSE:WIN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a buy rating. They currently have $2.25 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “We appreciate Windstream’s focus on improving sales, cost-cutting initiatives, planned pricing initiatives which should rake in profits and check churn. Windstream is enhancing its Cloud Connect solution. Launch of a new multi-featured SD-WAN solution looks good. Windstream’s cloud-to-cloud disaster recovery management solutions, expansion of Kinetic TV services in North Carolina, merger with EarthLink Holdings should rake in profits. Expansion of its metro fibre network business in the newer areas and aim to extend the deployment of G.fast technologies over traditional copper telephone wires bode well. However, over the past three months, the stock price declined 47.1% compared to the industry's 6.3% gain. Further, Windstream also remains under pressure with losses in the wholesale business, technological changes and its related expenses, highly leveraged balance sheet, diminishing access lines and stringent regulatory measures.”

Whiting Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:WLL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $6.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “WHITING PETROLEUM CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, is an independent oil and gas company that acquires, exploits, develops and explores for crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids primarily in the Permian Basin, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Continent, Gulf Coast and Michigan regions of the United States. The Company trades publicly under the symbol WLL on the New York Stock Exchange. “

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $88.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Share price of Walmart has been outperforming the industry on a year-to-date basis, as the company is pushing itself to understand the evolving needs of its customers and expand itself in both brick-and-mortar space as well as e-commerce activities. On one hand, the company is posting positive comps at Walmart U.S. for 12 successive quarters, on the other hand, it is also building its e-commerce capabilities through acquisitions and growing in the online grocery and delivery market. However, the company still faces headwinds such as unfavorable currency, stiff competition from both brick & mortar and online retailers and huge expenses related to e-commerce investments. Nevertheless, the company makes efforts to offset these headwinds with its initiatives to boost sales. The recent move to consolidate its U.S. operations will simplify its business structure and facilitate communication as well as improve execution.”

Washington Prime Group (NYSE:WPG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Washington Prime Group Inc. is a retail REIT. The company is engaged in the ownership, management, acquisition and development of retail properties. Washington Prime Group Inc., formerly known as WP Glimcher Inc., is based in COLUMBUS, United States. “

Westport Fuel Systems (NASDAQ:WPRT) (TSE:WPT) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $4.25 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Westport Fuel Systems frequently engages in investments and acquisitions related to technologies and businesses, which helps the company to commercialize its products and increase its global presence. Further, to boost its sales figure and improve its financials, the company regularly launches new products and engages in sale of its non-core assets. The company also maintains strong strategic relationships with leading truck and automotive producers, enabling it to improve its distribution and sales networks. Moreover, its shares have also outperformed the industry it belongs to over the last three months.”

WPX Energy (NYSE:WPX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $12.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of WPX Energy have gained higher the industry in last three months. WPX Energy continues to work on its strategy of increasing oil production, which is evident from the rising liquid mix in total production. The two acquisitions closed in Delaware Basin during the first quarter will help the company further increase its oil production. We believe WPX Energy's exposure in the Delaware, Williston and San Juan basins will enable it to achieve its goal of 40% higher oil generation in 2017 from 2016 levels. However, the competitive energy space, volatility in crude oil prices, stringent regulations and dependence on third parties to market their products are headwinds.”

Westar Energy (NYSE:WR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Westar Energy, Inc. is Kansas’ largest electric utility. Westar has 7,200 MW of electric generation capacity fueled by coal, uranium, natural gas, wind and landfill gas. They are a leader in electric transmission in Kansas. Their innovative customer service programs include mobile-enabled customer care, digital meters and paving the way for electric vehicle adoption. “

Wildhorse Resource Development Corporation (NYSE:WRD) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “WildHorse Resource Development Corporation is an oil and natural gas company. It focused on the acquisition, exploration, development and production of oil, natural gas and NGL. The company properties primarily consist of Eagle Ford Shale in East Texas and the Over-Pressured Cotton Valley in North Louisiana. WildHorse Resource Development Corporation is based in Houston, Texas. “

Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $58.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Williams-Sonoma enjoys a competitive advantage owing to its multi-brand/multi-channel business model. The company is focused on enhancing customer experience through improved and innovative marketing techniques. Although shares of Williams-Sonoma have underperformed its industry so far this year, earnings estimates for the current quarter and the year have moved north over the last 60 days, reflecting analysts’ optimism on the stock’s prospect. However, soft retail environment and cautious consumer spending pattern raise concern.”

Whitestone REIT (NYSE:WSR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Whitestone REIT is a fully integrated real estate investment trust that acquires, owns, manages, develops and redevelops high quality internet-resistant neighborhood, community and lifestyle retail centers. Whitestone’s properties are principally located in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Phoenix, which are among the fastest-growing markets in the country with highly educated workforces, high household incomes and strong job growth. The Company’s strategy is to target shifting consumer behavior and purchasing patterns by creating a complementary mix of grocery, dining, health and wellness, education, services, entertainment and specialty retail in its properties. Whitestone’s national, regional and local tenants provide daily necessities, needed services and convenience to the community which are not readily available online. Whitestone is headquartered in Houston, Texas. “

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