Stock Analysts’ upgrades for Tuesday, October 24th:

Archer-Daniels-Midland (NYSE:ADM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Archer Daniels has lagged the sector year to date. This could be largely blamed on the company's negative sales surprise history of over three years now. For the third quarter of 2017, management  expects the overall Agricultural Services results to be down from last year. Also, expectations of a highly competitive global environment raises concerns. Apart from this, we  remain worried about Hurricane Harvey's impact on the company's performance.  Thus, estimates have dipped lately, ahead of its third quarter earnings. Nonetheless, the company has been gaining from its solid cost savings which fuelled its bottom-line in the last reported quarter. Also, it remains committed to strengthen its capacities via buyouts and organic expansions. Given these factors and the prospects from Project Readiness, management remains confident of achieving strong earnings growth in 2017. In fact, the company is poised to emerge stronger in 2018.”

Aerie Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AERI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Aerie’s efforts on developing two late-stage candidates – Rhopressa and Roclatan – are encouraging. The company resubmitted new drug application (NDA) for lead candidate Rhopressa in Feb 2017. The FDA determined that the application is sufficiently complete to permit a substantive review and set the PDUFA goal date for the completion of review as Feb 28, 2018. Earlier in the month, the Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA voted in favor of Rhopressa’s approval. A potential approval of Rhopressa in early 2018 and successful commercialization will significantly boost the company’s growth prospects in the global ophthalmic market. Aerie’s shares have outperformed the industry in the year so far. However, with no approved product in its portfolio, Aerie depends heavily on a potential approval of Rhopressa. A further delay will impact the growth prospects.”

American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ:AGNC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating. They currently have $25.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of AGNC Investment have outperformed the industry it belongs to, year to date. Moreover, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for third-quarter and current-year earnings remained unchanged in a month’s time. Encouragingly, the company is making reasonable efforts to restructure its portfolio to hedge interest rate and prepayment uncertainty. Recently, it announced a public offering of 24.5 million common shares, the proceeds of which will be invested in various securities and hedging instruments. Such efforts to restructure the company's portfolio will subsequently help achieve diversity among a wide range of securities. The company's cost containment efforts also augur well. Further, its strong capital position and access to a diverse funding base renders financial flexibility.”

AXEL SPRINGER SE NPV(REGD) (OTC:AXELF) was upgraded by analysts at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) from a neutral rating to a buy rating.

Bombardier (TSE:BBD.B) was upgraded by analysts at Cormark from a market perform rating to a buy rating. They currently have C$3.20 target price on the stock, up from their previous target price of C$2.40.

BancorpSouth (NYSE:BXS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of BancorpSouth outperformed the industry over the past six months. The performance was supported by the company’s impressive earnings surprise history.  It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in all the trailing four quarters. Further, the company’s third-quarter 2017 operating earnings outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Higher net interest revenues and lower expenses were recorded. However, lower non-interest revenues and provisions were undermining factors. Given a strong balance-sheet position, the company has been steadily enhancing shareholders’ value through strategic acquisitions, dividend hikes, share buybacks and excellent expense-management initiatives.Yet, the company’s exposure to consumer mortgage and commercial real estate loans also continues to be a near-term concern. Further, a stretched valuation indicates limited upside potential for the stock.”

Crown Castle International Corporation (NYSE:CCI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Crown Castle’s efforts to diversify its business from a tower operator to a fiber provider looks impressive. The deployment of 5G network should drive growth on the company’s tower and small cell assets as the wireless carriers look to expand and enhance their networks. Crown Castle’s extensive tower portfolio, increased demand for infrastructure, healthy leasing activity, continual buyout of towers and growing demand for mobile broadband are other positives. Over the past three months, the stock price grew 4.4% as against the industry's 0.2% gain. Crown Castle has raised its outlook for 2017 despite reporting weak third-quarter 2017 financial results. Also, the company continues to face headwinds like high customer concentration and consolidated wireless industry, which is likely to affect the company's top line. Evolution of new technologies may reduce the demand for site leases and increase the expenses.”

Cimpress N.V (NASDAQ:CMPR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $121.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Cimpress has outperformed the industry year to date. It is making steady progress with investments in new markets and the business strategy is now focused on quality products and delivery, increased customer service and more transparent pricing. In addition, Cimpress has been acquiring firms with complementary product offerings and expects to ramp up its revenues with operating synergies through economies of scale and technological collaboration to serve a wide spectrum of customers across the globe. Management has also decided to implement a radical change in the organizational structure by decentralizing operations in order to improve accountability for customer satisfaction and capital returns, simplify decision-making and improve the speed of execution. However, headwinds in currency translation could add to the woes as almost half of its revenues are generated outside the United States.”

Coty (NYSE:COTY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Coty’s focus on continuously evaluating strategic buyouts and new brand licenses to enhance its portfolio bodes well. Evidently, its ghd and Younique acquisitions boosted revenues in the last reported quarter. Further, we commend the company’s practice of undertaking innovations in response to the evolving consumer trends. In this regard, Coty is boosting its digital transformation efforts across various divisions and regions. However, the company has lagged the industry in the past three months due to dismal fourth-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings, rising costs and sluggish Consumer Beauty segment. We note that the segment has been witnessing underlying challenges, especially in North America. Moreover, higher marketing and interest costs dented operating income in the quarter. Currency woes and stiff competition also remain deterrents for the company. Nonetheless, estimates have been stable lately ahead of the company’s earnings.”

Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Canadian Solar caters to a geographically diverse customer base spread across both key markets and emerging markets. It is gradually gaining share in Asia, which could soon become a major solar market. Its strong pipeline of projects along with pertinent inorganic strategies will further consolidate its position. However, the company is expected to continue experiencing market dislocation in the near term, which will directly impact its 2017 financial performance. Again, its top line is heavily skewed towards foreign sales, exposing the company to foreign exchange risks.Stiff competition from cheaper alternatives and exposure to foreign exchange risks are added concerns. Also, Canadian Solar underperformed the broader industry in the last year.”

Ensco Plc (NYSE:ESV) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Ensco’s prospects look bright as the company has been able to clinch new orders in spite of the ongoing commodity price volatility. This is clearly reflected in its huge project backlog.  Additionally, merger with Atwood Oceanics has been completed by the company. This will bring together two leading offshore drillers with premium assets that cover the world’s most prolific basins. Ensco’s impressive balance sheet and sufficient liquidity should help it address operational or corporate needs. Despite, these positives, cash flow from core operations for Ensco has been declining steeply with no sign of improvement since 2016. Eventually, the company is paying dividend yield much lesser than industry. All those weaknesses are reflected in Ensco’s unimpressive pricing chart snapshot of the last three months.”

Frontier Communications Corporation (NASDAQ:FTR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Over the past three months, share price of Frontier Communications declined 21% as against the industry’s loss of a mere 1.2%. Moreover, the company continues to suffer from the loss of legacy fixed telephony business to wireless and decline in access lines and wireless backhaul revenues due to customer migration to Ethernet solutions at lower price points. Reports about outages, bad telephone service and problems with billing raises concern. Despite such headwinds, we are impressed with Frontier Communications' focus to rake in more profits through customer retention, market share gain, new product introductions, broadband expansion and improved sales and marketing initiatives. The company is working on its growing Business Service Segment. Meanwhile, foraying into North Carolina through the rollout of ‘Vantage TV’ IPTV and broadband services also bode well.”

Guidewire Software (NYSE:GWRE) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $87.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Guidewire Software, a property and casualty insurance based software solutions provider, reported better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter 2017 results. The impressive top and bottom lines were driven by higher service activities, an additional $16.2 million of hosting revenues from ISCS, which the company acquired in February 2017; and certain early payments from term licenses. Notably, regular customer addition via cross-selling of its product suites is a positive. The company’s shift from term license to a cloud-based model is a tailwind for the company in the long run as the industry shifts toward cloud infrastructure. However, the costs related to the shift will put pressure on margins in the near term and affect the top line as term license revenues include advance payments whereas subscription-based revenues are a bit delayed. Nevertheless, the company’s shares have outperformed the industry on a year-to-date basis.”

iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $85.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Over the last twelve months, iRobot’s shares outperformed the industry. The company reported better-than-expected second-quarter 2017 results. Quarterly earnings and revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimates by 208% and 4%, respectively. The upside was stemmed by robust home robotics business in all end markets across the U.S., China, and the EMEA region. The company believes that sturdy demand, meaningful innovation investments and the planned Robiolas buyout would boost its results in the quarters ahead. Notably, the company raised its earnings and revenue guidance for full-year 2017.”

Lowe’s Companies (NYSE:LOW) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Lowe’s shares have slid and underperformed the industry in the past six months. In fact, the stock came under pressure after it posted lower-than-expected second-quarter fiscal 2017 results. This was the second quarter in row wherein both the top and bottom lines fell short of the estimate. Nevertheless, both sales and earnings grew year over year, albeit at a rate lower than the preceding quarter. However, comps showed considerable improvement. We believe Lowe’s buyout of Maintenance Supply Headquarters will help strengthen relationship with pro customers. Further, improving job scenario, housing market recovery, merchandising initiatives and post hurricane construction activities along with efforts to enhance omni-channel capabilities bode well. Management expects sales to increase 5% with comps growth of 3.5% during fiscal 2017 but took a conservative stance when it comes to earnings per share and operating margin guidance.”

Microsemi Corporation (NASDAQ:MSCC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Microsemi Corporation is an OEM of a broad range of high-reliability and analog/mixed signal integrated circuits. Third-quarter fiscal 2017 non-GAAP earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate while revenues were in line with the same. The company's focus on improving product mix, operational efficiency, and consolidation are driving revenues and margins through 2017. Moreover, we have confidence in the company's strategic positioning, strong fundamentals and growth prospects. Microsemi's scope for margin expansion and decent balance sheet are the other positives. However, pockets of weakness related to product transition at medical customers, push-out of some communications spending in China and a softer oil & gas market continue to impact revenues. Year to date, the stock has underperformed the industry it belongs to.”

Nordson Corporation (NASDAQ:NDSN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a buy rating. They currently have $140.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “In the last month, Nordson's shares have outperformed the industry. We believe that the company is poised to benefit from diversified product portfolio and strategic acquisitions in the long run. In March, the company acquired assets of Vention Medical's Advanced Technologies business. Also, it remains committed toward rewarding its shareholders through dividend payments and share buybacks. In the last 60 days, earnings estimates improved for both fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018.”

Nike (NYSE:NKE) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “NIKE has lagged the sector in the past three months due to lackluster sales in its key North American market. Notably, sales in the region dipped 3% in first-quarter fiscal 2018, wherein the gross margin was hurt by currency woes and a higher mix of off-price sales. The company anticipates near-term results to be hurt by the tough retail environment, which led to a bleak second quarter view. Estimates have been falling lately ahead of the second quarter earnings. However, the company’s last reported quarter gained from strength in international business and the global NIKE Direct business. Also, NIKE has been focused on its Consumer Direct Offense plan. Driven by its Triple Double strategy, this restructuring plan focuses on using digital methods for rapid innovation and product development, along with strengthening consumer relations by operating through core regions. It also has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

Rogers Communication (NYSE:RCI) (TSE:RCI.B) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $59.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Rogers Communications posted mixed third-quarter 2017 financial results, with the bottom line beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate while the top line missed the same. The company’s wireless and cable segment has been doing well with huge wireless and high-speed internet subscriber gain. We are bullish about the company’s wireless growth from the roll out of lower block spectrum and offering of Internet of Things as a service to business enterprises. Over the past three months, the stock price grew 2.1% beating the industry's loss of 5.4%. The company has maintained its position as the largest integrated-telecom operator in Canada. On the other hand, the company operates in an intensely competitive wireless and cable TV industry. Also, continuous softness in the advertising market, declining cash flow and loss of viewers to video streaming service providers remain potent headwinds.”

U.S. Silica Holdings (NYSE:SLCA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $31.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Estimates for the third quarter for U.S. Silica have been going up of late. U.S. Silica remains focused on making strategic investments and pursuing earnings-accretive acquisitions. It is also focusing on preserving capital, reducing costs, improving customer satisfaction and boosting its market position.”

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (NYSE:SNP) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $82.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Through its refinery business, Sinopec has been able to withstand the crude price weakness to a large extent. During first-half 2017, consumption of refined petroleum products jumped almost 6% from the prior-year comparable period. Also, declining long-term debt load along with a rapidly rising cash balance reflect balance sheet strength. Sinopec has also made large-scale oil discoveries, especially in the Shengli field, which will support long-term production.   Sinopec’s dividend yield of 4.84% is impressive and is higher than 1.57% yield for the industry. The company gives emphasis to building production capacity, improving operational organization and growing output.”

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