Stock Analysts’ upgrades for Thursday, May 16th:

Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $293.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Anthem shares have outperformed its industry in a year's time. The company's prudent acquisitions and collaborations complement its organic growth. Its consistently growing top line paves the way for long-term growth. A diverse product portfolio has also helped the company enhance its underwriting results. Anthem’s strong capital position backs effective capital deployment via share buybacks and regular dividends. A strong outlook for 2019 and growing membership instills investor's confidence in the company. However, the company has been suffering from high benefit costs and selling, general and administrative expense. Rising level of debt is another concern.”

A. O. Smith (NYSE:AOS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “In the past six months, A.O. Smith's shares have outperformed the industry. The company's growth potential in the defensive replacement market sets it apart from its peers. In fact, its robust liquidity position adds to its strength. The company’s Water-Right acquisition is likely to strengthen the company’s growth opportunities in the water treatment industry, especially in the wholesale and independent dealer array.  Moreover, the company follows a sound capital-deployment strategy and continually rewards shareholders. However, it looks significantly overvalued compared with the industry. Going forward, the company projects weaker performance in the Rest of World segment, primarily due to lower growth forecasts in China. We believe, if unchecked, higher costs and operating expenses might also prove detrimental to its margins and profitability.”

American Water Works (NYSE:AWK) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $123.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of American Water Works have outperformed its industry in the past 12 months. American Water Works continues to add water and wastewater customers, as well as expand its market reach through acquisitions and organic growth. The planned capital expenditure within 2019-2023 time period for improving its water and wastewater systems will enable the company to provide efficient services to the expanding customer base. New rates are boosting the top line of the company. However, the company is subject to stringent regulations, fluctuating weather patterns and risk of accidents due to old and soiled pipelines. High debt level of the company is a headwind.”

Centene (NYSE:CNC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $61.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Centene’s first-quarter 2019 adjusted earnings per share of $1.39, beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 5.3% and also improved 27.5% year over year on the back of Fidelis buyout, growing revenues, etc. Its shares have outperformed its industry quarter to date. Its momentum in revenue growth is likely to grow on the back of rising membership and expansion. The company boasts an impressive inorganic growth strategy, driven by buyouts. It recently entered into an agreement with WellCare, which will position the company as the largest Medicaid managed care organization in the country. Medical membership of the company has been rising over the past several quarters owing to contract wins. However, mounting operating costs remain a headwind. In 2019, adjusted SG&A expense ratio is estimated between 9.3% and 9.8%. Also, high debt level increases leverage risk.”

Cintas (NASDAQ:CTAS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $248.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Over the past three months, Cintas' shares have outperformed the industry. Improved product offerings, solid customer base and effective implementation of enterprise resource planning system will benefit the company in the quarters ahead. Further, the company will gain from the G&K Services buyout. For fiscal 2019, Cintas raised earnings estimates from $7.30-$7.38 to $7.42-$7.48 per share. A strong cash position and focus on rewarding shareholders handsomely through dividends and share repurchases will work in its favor. Also, for fiscal 2019, the company expects to continue generating strong cash flow. The company has been witnessing solid activity on the earnings estimate revision front, reflecting bullish sentiment.”

General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $188.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “General Dynamics company boasts a strong position in the U.S. defense space and overseas. General Dynamics continues to witness strong order growth, procuring some pivotal contracts from the U.S. government and also from its overseas clients. Apart from solid demand for its varied defense products leading to organic growth, a notable acquisition strategy also adds to General Dynamics’ inorganic growth. Notably, General Dynamics acquired CSRA Inc. in April 2018 for $9.7 billion, and will now provide high-tech IT solutions to the government IT market. However, the company operates in a highly competitive market. The company also incurs high interest expenses. General Dynamics' shares also underperformed its industry in the past twelve months.”

Gentex (NASDAQ:GNTX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $25.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “In first-quarter 2019, Gentex’s earnings and revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Revenues also improved year over year during the quarter. The company aims to attain long-term growth, driven by robust product launches, better mix and unique technology platforms. It pursues an aggressive capital-deployment strategy. Also, rising demand for its dimmable devices is adding to its growth momentum. However, high operating expenses, and pricing pressure from automotive customers and competitors are concerns for Gentex.”

GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating. The firm currently has $8.50 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “GoPro reported better-than-expected first-quarter 2019 results, wherein both the top line and the bottom line beat the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate driven by strong demand for HERO7 cameras and diligent execution of operational plans. The company aims to translate the healthy momentum in its business along with controlled cost into growth and profitability in 2019, while limiting operating expenses below $400 million. The action video camera maker plans to enhance its Plus subscription service through better benefits and user awareness. GoPro intends to extend its footprint in emerging markets such as India and remains focused on scaling its CRM efforts to increase customer base. The stock has outperformed the industry in the past year on average. However, high R&D costs to maintain a dominant market share and continuously develop innovative products remain a headwind.”

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $143.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Hershey’s shares have improved in the past year on the back of buyouts, innovation and cost-saving methods. These upsides drove the company during first-quarter 2019, wherein both top and bottom lines beat estimates and grew year over year. The company focuses on strengthening its acquired businesses and making innovations. Further, Hershey is on track with its Margin for Growth program. Notably, savings from this plan, reduced costs and higher sales drove gross margin expansion in the quarter. These factors along with better net price realization bode well for 2019, wherein net sales and gross margin are expected to improve. However, results were somewhat hurt by currency headwinds, especially in the international segment. Additionally, stiff competition and consumers’ changing preferences are persistent threats.”

Imperial Oil (NYSEAMERICAN:IMO) (TSE:IMO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $32.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Imperial Oil has been upgraded to a ‘Buy’ on the back of certain tailwinds. Being one of the leading integrated oil companies in Canada, it has operations all across the hydrocarbon value chain, providing it with a high level of stability and reducing its risk profile. Especially, with the widening crude oil price differentials in Canada impacting upstream revenues, Imperial Oil’s downstream and chemical segments have acted as a booster. Ramp-up activities in the company’s upstream and downstream assets is expected to further augment its income and revenues. Balance sheet strength and investor-friendly moves are other positives. Recently, company increased its payout for the 25th consecutive year. It also renewed its share repurchase program to buy 40 million shares till June 2019, as a show of confidence in its cash-generating ability.”

Eli Lilly And Co (NYSE:LLY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $129.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Lilly beat estimates for earnings in the first quarter.  However, Lilly lowered its sales guidance for 2019.  Revenue growth in 2019 is expected to be driven by higher demand for its newer drugs including Trulicity, Jardiance, Taltz, Verzenio and new migraine drug, Emgality as some older drugs like Cialis face generic competition. Lilly has made significant pipeline progress in the past year with several positive late-stage data readouts, multiple approvals and regulatory submissions. Lilly also added promising new pipeline assets through business development deals. The stock has outperformed the industry in the past year. However, competitive pressure on Lilly’s drugs is expected to rise in 2019. Generic competition for several drugs including Cialis, rising pricing pressure, currency headwinds and the impact of the failed Lartruvo study are expected to put pressure on the top line.”

Lowe’s Companies (NYSE:LOW) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Lowe’s have not only declined but also underperformed the industry in the past month. Notably, Lowe’s plans to exit Orchard Supply Hardware business and Mexico retail operations along with shuttering certain non-core businesses and stores have led to higher pre-tax charges. This along with soft margins and headwinds related to intense competition remain matters of concern. Additionally, anticipates softness in the Canadian housing market to persist in the near-term. On the flip side, the company witnessed decent comps performance in fourth-quarter fiscal 2018. Although top line missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate, the same rose year over year gaining from pro-customer centric approach as well as robust marketing and merchandising efforts. Lowe's has chalked out a detailed plan to augment sales, contain costs and improve cash flow generation from operations. “

Macy’s (NYSE:M) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Macy’s have slid and underperformed the industry in the past three months. The stock came under pressure in spite of the company’s better-than-expected first-quarter fiscal 2019 bottom-line results, positive comps and double-digit growth in the digital business. Certainly, year-over-year decline in both net sales and earnings did raise a concern but what really hurt was management’s commentary on ongoing trade war between the United States and China. Macy’s informed that the latest tariff increase will hurt its furniture business to an extent. Nonetheless, it remains optimistic to mitigate the impact of same. However, it added that any further imposition of tariffs will impact both its private and national brands. The company has still not factored in this to its fiscal 2019 guidance, which it has kept intact. We believe that if situation worsens, this could impact the company’s performance going forward.”

The Medicines (NASDAQ:MDCO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “The Medicines Company reported mixed Q1 results wherein loss was narrower than expected but sales missed estimates. The company's pipeline boasts a potential blockbuster candidate, inclisiran, being developed for hypercholesterolemia. Moreover, the company implemented a workforce lay-off last year for better alignment of its cost and structure. We are also encouraged by The Medicines Co.’s divestiture of marketed products to focus on inclisiran. This will optimize its capital structure and enhance its liquidity position. However, with divestment of its marketed products, it has become all the more necessary for the company to successfully develop and bring in new products to the market for growth. Any regulatory setback will weigh heavily on the stock. Shares of the company have outperformed the industry so far this year.”

Nordson (NASDAQ:NDSN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Nordson stands to benefit from the diversified product portfolio and large customer base in the end markets. We also believe that the company stands to gain from buyouts and its solid product portfolio. In addition, its policies of paying dividends and repurchasing shares work in its favor. For fiscal 2019, it anticipates organic volume to grow 3-5%, higher than 2.5% registered in fiscal 2018. Also, operating margin is predicted to increase 100-150 basis points year over year. On the flip side, risks surfacing from rising cost of sales and higher debt levels are concerning. Further, forex woes are likely to hurt sales growth by 2%. Over the past three months, the company's shares have underperformed the industry. Also, earnings estimates for fiscal 2019 have been revised down in the past 30 days.”

Proofpoint (NASDAQ:PFPT) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $134.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Proofpoint's first-quarter results benefited from a firm international footing and solid uptick in emerging suite of products. Robust demand for Email Fraud Defense and Threat Response is a tailwind. Its new offerings have expanded the total addressable market by more than $6 billion and are proving to be a key growth catalyst. Renewal rate is consistently high. Management is confident about retaining revenue growth of 20% or more while maintaining free cash flow margins in the mid-20s in 2019. Moreover, the company raised its view for 2019 revenues, which is encouraging. Sturdy adoption of cloud is boosting demand for its solutions. However, Proofpoint expects headwinds this year due to zero contribution from the Cloudmark’s OEM business. Moreover, continuous investment in sales and marketing is expected to weigh on the company’s bottom line in the near term. Shares have underperformed the industry year to date.”

Peak Resorts (NASDAQ:SKIS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Peak Resorts, Inc. is an owner and operator of ski resorts in the U.S. The resorts under the company’s umbrella offer a breadth of activities, services and amenities, including skiing, snowboarding, terrain parks, tubing, dining, lodging, equipment rentals and sales, ski and snowboard instruction and mountain biking and other summer activities. Its ski properties are located throughout the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast United States. Peak Resorts, Inc. is headquartered in Wildwood, Missouri. “

Savara (NASDAQ:SVRA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $12.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Savara Inc. is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company. It focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of patients with rare respiratory diseases. Savara Inc., formerly known as Mast Therapeutics, Inc., is based in Austin, United States. “

TransAlta (NYSE:TAC) (TSE:TA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “TransAlta is Canada’s largest non-regulated electric generation and marketing company. “

Taoping (NASDAQ:TAOP) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Taoping Inc. is a cloud-based ad terminal and service provider of a digital advertising distribution network and new media resource sharing platform in the out-of-home advertising market primarily of China. The Company provides the integrated end-to-end digital advertising solutions enabling customers to distribute and manage ads on the ad display terminals. Taoping Inc., formerly known as China Information Technology Inc., is based in Futian D Shenzhen City, China. “

Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “The Telecom Italia Group is engaged principally in the communication sector that operates mainly in Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and South America. This includes telephone and data services on fixed lines (for final retail customers and wholesale providers), the development of fiber optic networks for wholesale customers, BroadBand services, Internet services, domestic and international mobile telecommunications (especially in Brazil), and the television sector using both analog and digital terrestrial technology. The Group also operates businesses in the office products sector. “

Tilly’s (NYSE:TLYS) 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, “Tilly’s, Inc. is a specialty retailer in the action sports industry selling clothing, shoes and accessories. The Company distributes t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, shorts, pants, jeans, sweaters, swimwear, shoes and accessories for men, women and kids through its website. It sells denim apparel and cologne for guys, boys and juniors and apparel, footwear and accessories for juniors and girls under RSQ, Full Tilt, Blue Crown and Infamous brand names. Tilly’s, Inc. is based in Irvine, California. “

Teekay Offshore Partners (NYSE:TOO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating. The firm currently has $1.25 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “TEEKAY OFFSHORE PARTNERS L.P. is a publicly-traded master limited partnership formed by Teekay and is an international provider of marine transportation and storage services to the offshore oil industry. Teekay Offshore currently owns a twenty six percent interest in and controls OPCO with a fleet of thirty four shuttle tankers (nine of which are chartered-in), four floating storage and offtake units and nine conventional crude oil Aframax tankers. The Partnership also has direct ownership interests in two shuttle tankers and one FSO. “

TransUnion (NYSE:TRU) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $72.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “TransUnion's first-quarter 2019 earnings and revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The company has an attractive business model with highly recurring and diversified revenue streams, significant operating leverage, low capital requirements and strong and stable cash flows. TransUnion’s huge base of data is its most distinguishing asset and perhaps the biggest barrier to entry for competitors. Acquisitions act as a key growth catalyst. The company serves a broad range of customers across multiple geographies and verticals, and boasts over 35 million customers. On the flip side, shares of TransUnion have underperformed its industry in the past six months. The company operates in a highly competitive market, which restricts its pricing power and limits profitability to some extent. The company's operating segments experience seasonality. High debt may limit TransUnion’s future expansion and worsen its risk profile.”

Trupanion (NASDAQ:TRUP) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Trupanion, Inc. operates as a direct-to-consumer monthly subscription service provider of a medical insurance plan for cats and dogs. It operates primarily in Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States. The Company serves pet owners and veterinarians. Trupanion, Inc. is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. “

Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TTPH) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a life science company engaged in developing and commercializing tetracycline based drugs to treat drug-resistant infectious diseases, inflammation, and cancer. Its principal products include eravacycline, an intravenous and oral antibiotic for the treatment of multi-drug resistant Gram-negative infections. The Company’s product under development includes eravacycline oral formulation, TP-834 and TP-271. Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is based in Watertown, Massachusetts. “

US Concrete (NASDAQ:USCR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “U.S. Concrete Inc. operates as a provider of ready-mixed concrete and concrete-related products and services to the construction industry in the United States. The Company operates in two segments: ready-mixed concrete and concrete-related products; and precast concrete. The Company’s ready-mixed concrete and concrete-related products segment produces and sells ready-mixed concrete, aggregates (crushed stone, sand and gravel), concrete masonry and building materials. Its precast concrete products segment produces and sells precast concrete products. Markets served by the Company include west Texas, northern California, New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma and the mid-Atlantic region. U.S. Concrete Inc. is based in Houston, Texas, USA. “

UTStarcom (NASDAQ:UTSI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “UTStarcom Holdings Corp. is engaged in providing interactive Protocol based network solutions. The Company also provides integration and support services in Internet Protocol TV, Interactive TV, Internet TV and Broadband for cable and telecom operators. It designs and sells IP-based telecommunications infrastructure products including its primary product suite of IPTV, and broadband solutions along with the services relating to the installation, operation and maintenance of these products. UTStarcom Holdings Corp., formerly known as UTStarcom, Inc., is headquartered in Beijing, China. “

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