Weekly Recommendation, Target Price, Earnings Forecast Changes

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February 25, 2013 10:13 AM EST

By Andrew Nelson

With reporting season swinging into top gear last week, this week's report is chock-a-block full of recommendation revisions. There were thirteen upgrades recorded, while some forty downgrades were pushed through over the course of the week.

The proceedings get underway with Adelaide Brighton ((ABC)), which was upgraded to Buy from Hold by analysts at Citi. The broker notes that increasing demand from resources and project work is more than offsetting the softness in residential and non-residential markets. The balance sheet also remains solid. A positive sentiment footing in the FNArena Database is improved by the upgrade.

Amcor ((AMC)) was lifted to Buy from Sell by Credit Suisse, the broker suggesting the first half was solid and there's plenty more balance sheet capacity for acquisitions. The problem for Amcor were the downgrades, with Citi dropping from Buy to Hold and JP Morgan lowering from Hold to Sell. Citi cited recent share price outperformance, while JP Morgan was unhappy with the earnings results and an increasingly stretched valuation. After the changes the stock has hung on to a positive sentiment skew in the database.

Boart Longyear ((BLY)) was boosted up to Hold from Sell by Macquarie, on hopes an earnings trough is now in sight combined with an 8% drop in the price post the release of the FY result. Meanwhile, UBS cut from Hold to Sell, with the result missing the broker's estimates by 12%. The broker also believes underlying conditions remain weak and a recovery is not likely soon. Post the revisions the stock has maintained its negative sentiment.

Coca-Cola Amatil ((CCL)) was upgraded to Buy from Hold by JP Morgan, the broker citing increased free cash flow, improved Indonesian operations and the stock's underperformance over the last six months. Sentiment remains positive.

Drillsearch ((DLS)) and Echo Entertainment ((EGP)) were both upgraded to Buy from Hold by Macquarie. Higher margin crude production, a continuing reserve upgrade trend and a knocked down share price were the reason for the move on Drillsearch. For Echo, the broker likes the medium term prospects for Star and the announced cost reduction program, while M&A upside also looks attractive. The upgrade moves Echo from a neutral to positive sentiment read, while straight Buys for Drillsearch mean its sentiment is now perfect.

Evolution Mining ((EVN)) was lifted to Buy from Hold by Credit Suisse, with just one Hold now keeping it from a perfect sentiment score of straight Buys in the Database. The first half results were deemed reasonable, while the ramp up of Mt Carlton is progressing well, says CS.

iiNet ((IIN)) moves from Sell to Hold on CS's books after the broker upgraded FY14-FY15 earnings by 6.3% and 13% on an improving outlook. JP Morgan downgraded to Hold, the broker noting subs growth is stagnating, margin drivers are fading and more generally, growth options have become more complex and thus more risky. The changes offset and leave the company with a positive sentiment setting.

PanAust ((PNA)) is also up to Hold from Sell on the books of Credit Suisse despite Phu Kham's reserve update, with a weaker outlook disappointing the broker. The broker also lifted Specialty Fashion ((SFH)) to Hold from Sell on an upgraded valuation. Sentiment for PanAust is strong, while the upgrade also moves SFH into positive territory.

Southern Cross Media((SXL)) is moved to Hold from Sell by JP Morgan, the broker citing the fact that, in a difficult revenue environment, the company has managed to implement strong cost controls while the shares otherwise trade at a significant discount to market multiples. UBS disagrees, downgrading to Hold from Buy after a strong share price re-rating. The changes leave the stock with a positive sentiment read in the database.

Super Retail ((SUL)) is upped to Buy from Hold by CIMB, the broker labelling the interim report as "near flawless" and noting there are still many levers available to keep growth momentum intact. The broker notes while it would be all too easy to throw the stock into the too expensive basket, such a move would have to ignore the strong growth that remains on the horizon. Overall sentiment has moved from neutral to positive on the upgrade.

The last upgrade of the week was for fishmonger Tassal Group ((TGR)), with JP Morgan lifting to Buy from Hold on a strong 1H, solid domestic volume growth and the belief the company can not only keep this up but also reduce processing and growing costs at the same time. The upgrade moves sentiment into positive territory.

And that brings us to downgrades. First cab off the rank is Alumina ((AWC)), which is dropped to Hold from Buy by Macquarie. The broker still likes the stock longer term, but still needs to account for a $53m loss, no dividend declared, flat guidance and more asset sales. Credit Suisse downgraded to Sell the week prior, not liking the US$465m placement with Citic.

Citi has lowered ARB Corp ((ARP)) to Sell from Hold, with shares too expensive despite the inarguable earnings upside. The stock have now moved to a neutral sentiment footing. UBS drops Ardent Leisure ((AAD)) to Hold from Buy given the broker wants see a return to growth for theme park earnings for a re-rating. Sentiment remains positive.

Aristocrat ((ALL)) was cut to Sell from Hold by Credit Suisse, the broker citing a too high share price. Sentiment moves to negative. Asciano ((AIO)) is also cut to Sell from Hold, but in this case it's by Macquarie. The broker citing a too high share price and the belief management's medium term 15% growth target is looking a bit ambitious. Ausenco ((AAX)) is down to Hold from Buy on JP Morgan's books, the broker thinking now is probably a pretty good time to take some profits. Aristocrat moves to a negative sentiment read post the adjustment, while both Asciano and Ausenco remain positive.

Credit Suisse moves Breville ((BRG)) down to Hold from Buy, spoiling what was a straight set of Buys. Moderating US growth expectations and lower Kuerig income have the broker thinking the valuation is now less compelling. Cabcharge ((CAB)) is dropped to Hold from Buy by CIMB on an outlook that seems to weaken by the day and a share price that is thus too rich. Sentiment turns a bit more negative post the revision.

CFS Retail ((CFX)) was unlucky enough to wear two downgrades, BA-Merrill Lynch moving from Buy to Hold and Credit Suisse going from Hold to Sell. Merrill's wants to see more asset recycling and otherwise sees nothing to substantiate a Buy, while CS also sees limited catalysts and a fully priced stock. Post the downgrades the stock has moved tom a neutral sentiment stance.

Citi downgraded Charter Hall Retail ((CQR)) to Sell from Hold given the share price keeps climbing while net tangible asset value keeps dropping. Sentiment shifts to neutral. Commonwealth Property Office ((CPA)) is cut to Hold from Buy, with analysts at BA-ML noting a subdued earnings performance and a medium term outlook that is still highly uncertain. Sentiment has shifted to negative.

Fantastic Holdings ((FAN)) was down to Hold from Buy on the books of both Macquarie and JP Morgan. Both brokers have pushed out assumptions for revenue growth, with JPM thinking gross margin expansion is unlikely. Sentiment has shifted to negative on the downgrades.

Credit Suisse cuts Fortescue Metals ((FMG)) to Hold from Buy on share price appreciation, although sentiment remains positive. Macquarie drops Goodman Group ((GMG)) to Hold from Buy, noting valuation doesn't quite fit with growth prospects. Sentiment remains negative. CS also drops GPT ((GPT)) to Sell from Hold on valuation grounds post a good FY effort, while Citi lowers GWA Group ((GWA)) for the same reason. Sentiment for both is negative.

Iluka ((ILU)) was forced to wear a double downgrade post its FY result, with CIMB and CS concerned about the prospects for the next year or two, noting prices are still plummeting and production is being actively scaled back. CIMB moves from Hold to Sell, while CS is down to Hold from Buy. The moves still the leave the stock with a positive sentiment reading in the database.

Citi has downgraded Invocare ((IVC)) to Sell from Hold, believing a PE of 22x isn't justified by earnings growth of 16% in FY13, 5% in FY14 and 7% in FY15. Sentiment has held at positive. Deutsche Bank has lowered Macquarie Atlas Roads ((MQA)) to Hold from Buy on valuation grounds, while CS has cut McMillan Shakespeare ((MMS)) to Hold from Buy, also on valuation grounds. Sentiment remains positive.

Mermaid Marine ((MRM)) was also downgraded to Hold from Buy, but by Macquarie and Deutsche Bank. Both brokers moving on valuation grounds, although Deutsche remains quite positive on the stock, noting the near term outlook remains positive, while demand and rates are expected to rise on still high activity levels in the offshore oil and gas markets. Macquarie concurs and despite the downgrades, sentiment remains positive.

It was a busy week for Monadelphous ((MND)) and not good busy, either. CIMB and Macquarie have moved from Buy to Hold, while BA-ML, UBS and Deutsche are all down to Sell from Hold. In fact, the only brokers that didn't downgrade the stock were Citi and JP Morgan and that's because they were already at Sell to begin with. CIMB summed it up well, noting that shares have performed strongly over the past two years, significantly outperforming about anything else over the past decade, including ever growing dividends. Now that the industry is facing a period of consolidation, CIMB suggests the same is going to happen to the company's growth, and to its share price. There are no structural problems with the stock, says the broker, it just thinks it a prudent to move to a Neutral rating. Sentiment has dropped deep into negative territory.

Pacific Brands ((PBG)) has been dropped to Hold from Buy by Macquarie on the back of ongoing sales declines in the first half when the market was expecting improvement. The broker is still upbeat on the transformation strategy, it's just pushed out the timing a bit. Sentiment manages to hang on to a positive skew. UBS has downgraded Seek ((SEK)) saying that after an 84% share price rally in just over a year, it's finally time to pull back to Neutral. Sentiment has moved from neutral to negative on the change.

Sonic Healthcare ((SHL)) also got a double dose, with both BA-ML and JP Morgan shifting from Buy to Hold on a weak first half and concerns that the FY target is now looking more than a bit of a stretch. Despite the downgrades, the stock has managed to hang on to a positive sentiment bias. Macquarie moved The Reject Shop ((TRS)) down from Buy to Hold as well, noting the stock has run pretty hard over the past few months and it's now time for a breather.

And that leaves us with our last stock of the report, Woodside ((WPL)), with Macquarie cutting to Sell from Hold and Citi down to Hold from Buy. Macquarie cites share price strength coupled with limited near-term catalysts, while Citi thought it was a strong result, but also notes that the bulk of growth options are still pretty long dated. The sentiment read has hung on to a positive bias.

There were also a large number of significant changes to consensus earnings forecasts, as are detailed in the tables below. Click the stock code links to see the latest forecasts and broker commentary. The story is exactly the same for significant consensus earnings revisions, with further details on each company available in the FNArena Database.

Note: FNArena monitors eight leading stockbrokers on a daily basis and the tables below are based on data analysis from the week past concerning these eight equity market experts. The eight experts in casu are: BA-Merrill Lynch, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Macquarie, CIMB (formerly RBS) and UBS.

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