Investment Analysts’ upgrades for Tuesday, August 29th:

AptarGroup (NYSE:ATR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “For third-quarter 2017, AptarGroup expects earnings to be in the range of 77–97 cents, the mid-point of the guidance reflects 4.8% improvement year over year. Its focus on execution of growth strategy will help customers to grow their businesses with innovative dispensing solutions. The company has implemented a commercial excellence program to boost sales and marketing capability in its Beauty + Home segment. Further its Pharma segment continues to benefit from strong demand across its portfolio of devices. However, AptarGroup continues to face headwinds in Brazil due to the tough economic situation. Its business in China also remains at risk due to the recent record heat wave near Shanghai resulting in energy restrictions. Additional interest expense, higher raw material costs and foreign exchange volatility will also hurt results. AptarGroup underperformed the industry’s performance over the past year.”

Broadcom Limited (NASDAQ:AVGO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $272.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Broadcom reported impressive third-quarter fiscal 2017 results. The strong top-line growth was driven by robust performance from the wireless business, which is expected to continue in the fiscal fourth quarter. Higher dollar content at the company’s large North American smartphone customer’s (Apple) next-gen platform (iPhone) drove revenues. Robust industrial re-sales were also noticeable. Broadcom now expects fourth-quarter revenue growth to be in the double-digit range on a year-over-year basis, much similar to the second and third quarter. However, gross margin is expected to contract slightly due to unfavorable product mix (higher mix of low margin wireless business). We note that consistent results has helped the stock outperform the industry on a year-to-date basis.”

American Express (NYSE:AXP) 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, “The stock of American Express has outperformed the industry in last one year. The company is gaining from investments made in growth opportunities over the last couple of years. A solid market position, strength in card business and significant opportunities from the secular shift toward electronic payments are growth drivers. Strategic initiatives focusing on the platinum card portfolio and OptBlue program will drive business volume. Cost reduction and return of significant capital to shareholders through dividend and share buyback are other positives.”

AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “AutoZone expects higher sales growth in fiscal 2017 compared to fiscal 2016. Also, the company’s strong cash flows help to aggressively repurchase shares. It has enough liquidity to repurchase shares without compromising on financial strength and therefore, the credit ratings. Moreover, the company uses its significant cash flow to open new stores every year. However, year to date, AutoZone has underperformed the industry it belongs to. The company expects its capital and operating expenses to rise over the next three years due to its plans to open 2–3 new distribution centers over this time frame. Currency headwinds also pose a challenge.”

BorgWarner (NYSE:BWA) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $50.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “BorgWarner earnings and revenues beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the second quarter. Moreover, high organic net sales growth expectations are likely to aid BorgWarner 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 growth. Also, a healthy balance sheet and ample cash flow help the company to return capital to its shareholders’ and undertake acquisitions. However, its inability to pass on any rise in raw materials to OEMs, is adversely impacting its profit. Moreover, foreign currency fluctuations and business divestitures are other headwinds BorgWarner has been facing. Also year-to-date, its share has underperformed the industry it belongs to.”

Carnival Corporation (NYSE:CCL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $77.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Carnival shares have outpaced the industry in the past year. Given burgeoning demand for cruise travel in 2017, the addition of new ships to its fleet bodes well. Carnival believes that it is well positioned for continued earnings growth, given the current strength in its bookings along with pricing trends for the year. Notably, its brand building efforts together with other marketing activities are driving bookings. Its strategy of growing beyond familiar itineraries and capitalizing on fast growing markets also bodes well. New onboard product offerings and strategic initiatives are expected to drive onboard yield gains. Cost containment efforts like lower fuel consumption could also aid profits. However, adverse forex translations, higher costs along with macroeconomic issues in key operating regions remain headwinds. A potential increase in fuel costs can also hamper its profitability.”

Cooper Companies, Inc. (The) (NYSE:COO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $277.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “The Cooper Companies outperformed the broader industry in terms of price performance over the past six months. The Cooper Companies have always had an impressive show from its CooperSurgical business segment. The CooperVision segment also delivered strong sales in the last quarter, buoyed by robust performance by Toric. However, the company generates a significant part of its revenues in foreign currencies. Thus, the ongoing unfavorable currency translation is expected to negatively impact the company’s top-line growth in 2017. Furthermore, intensifying competition in the contact lens will continue to increase pricing pressure for the company. Also, the stocks overvaluation reflects a relatively dull scenario that might be a cause for investors’ concern.The Cooper Companies ended second-quarter fiscal 2017 on a solid note, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimates on both lines.”

Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Campbell Soup is on track with its strategic growth initiatives, through its focus on acquisitions aimed at strengthening its brand portfolio. Its strategy of concentrating on supply chain efficiencies, along with cutting costs is likely to drive growth. Campbell has generated solid results from its three-year cost savings program. This led management to raise the lower end of its EPS and EBIT views. However, the company has lagged the broader industry in the last three months. The company is bearing the brunt of a tough macroeconomic scenario in the food industry, with soft consumption patterns. This, along with intense competition from e-commerce giants dented top-line in the third quarter. Also, continued softness in C-Fresh due to lingering constraints from the Bolthouse Farms product recall remains a concern. These factors led to a tweaked sales view for the fiscal. Estimates have been stable ahead of the fourth quarter earnings release.”

Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Discover Financial remains well positioned for growth on the back of its superior performing credit card business, which resulted in consistent revenue growth over the last few years. Moreover, the U.S. consumer finance industry remains healthy amid declining unemployment and improving housing sector. Strong brand recognition, product innovation and customer acquisition strategies have significantly contributed to its overall growth. However, its shares have underperformed the industry in last one year. The company’s weak Payment Service segment continues to hurt its profitability. Rising expenses also put pressure on the bottom line. Its second-quarter 2017 earnings missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate as well as declined year over year due to higher expenses. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised 0.3% downward over the last 30 days.”

Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) (NYSE:GS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Goldman outperformed the industry over the past year. This price performance is backed by impressive earnings surprise history. The company has surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in three of the trailing four quarters. Though the company’s well-diversified business, expected lesser regulations and its focus to capitalize on growth opportunities through strategic moves should continue to bolster the overall business, various lawsuits, which are yet to be resolved are likely to lead to elevated expenses and litigation provisions in the near term. Several issues, including sluggish global economic growth and lower client activity levels, also remain near-to-medium-term headwinds.”

Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE:HRL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Over the last three months, Hormel Foods' shares have underperformed and look overvalued compared to the industry. The company's third-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings of 34 cents missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 8.1% while declined 5.6% year over year due to price inflation of major inputs like pork bellies and beef trim, as well as the ongoing Jennie-O Turkey Store segment issues. For fiscal 2017, the company trimmed its earnings guidance to $1.54-$1.58 per share from the prior projection of $1.65-$1.71. In addition, headwinds such as negative foreign currency translation impact or outbreak of a livestock disease are expected to thwart the company's near-term results. However, Hormel anticipates that increased sales of major brands, acquired assets and ongoing growth oriented investments would likely boost near-term results. Also, the company is committed towards returning value to its shareholders.”

Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Kinder Morgan has increased its annual dividend to 80 cents per share in 2018 that proves the company’s prudence. In Oct 2015, the company was compelled to lower its dividend from 51 cents per share to 125 cents after its midstream businesses were hurt by weakness in oil and gas prices. With a lower dividend, the company was less dependent on issuing new debt and equity, which we believe eradicates financing risk for the foreseeable future. Moreover, low natural gas prices has increased its consumption in the U.S that is beneficial for the company as it has extensive natural gas transportation facilities, which is likely to be in demand from this development. However, Kinder Morgan’s stock has underperformed the broader industry, year to date. We are also concerned about the company’s weak balance sheet and it’s financing for Trans Mountain pipeline is also under threat.”

China Life Insurance Company Limited (NYSE:LFC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $18.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Year to date, China Life’s shares have outperformed the industry. The company’s robust market position and organic growth initiatives are encouraging. Its operational efficiency is also reflected by its product upgrades and premium growth over the last few quarters. Its solid investment management also continues to impress. The company has the most extensive distribution and service network among all insurance companies operating in China. Its first-half 2017 net profit grew 17.8% year-over-year, primarily on the back of higher revenues. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 and 2018 earnings being revised upward over the last 30 days. However, it suffers from rising expenses that have been pushing the bottom line down over last few quarters. Its severe exposure to market risk also bothers.”

McCormick & Company, (NYSE:MKC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $106.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “McCormick’s shares have outperformed the industry on a year-to-date basis, primarily owing to its strategic initiatives. The company has been steadily widening its portfolio through acquisitions. Recently, it completed the buyout of Reckitt’s food division, which is expected to position McCormick as one of the leading companies in the U.S. condiments category. Also, the company has been gaining from its product innovation, brand marketing support and expanded distribution as well as pricing actions. Furthermore, it remains focused on saving costs and enhancement of productivity through the ongoing Comprehensive Continuous Improvement program. However, adverse impacts of higher material costs and currency translations continue to pose threats to the company. Such impacts are likely to persist throughout fiscal 2017.”

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $131.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Over the last six months, Monsanto’s shares outperformed the industry. The company reported better-than-expected third-quarter fiscal 2017 results. Increasing demand for crop-yield enhancing products, stronger innovation and success of Bayer’s buyout deal are anticipated to bolster Monsanto’s top- and bottom-line performance in the quarters ahead. However, challenging pricing conditions prevailing in the agricultural market might limit near-term growth. In addition, headwinds like weaker currencies of major overseas markets, such as Brazil, or stiff industry rivalry remain major causes of worry. Over the last seven days, Zacks Consensus Estimate for the stock has remained unchanged for both fiscal 2017 and 2018.”

Microsemi Corporation (NASDAQ:MSCC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $55.00 price target on the stock. 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. Over the last one year, the stock has underperformed the industry it belongs to.”

PACCAR (NASDAQ:PCAR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $72.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “PACCAR’s earnings and revenues beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the second quarter. Compared with the year-ago figures, the company’s earnings per share were lower, whereas the revenue was higher. A strong balance sheet enables it to invest in the development of new technologies, enhanced manufacturing facilities and after-market support. These initiatives will help the company to strengthen its worldwide presence. Moreover, a stable market has enabled PACCAR to project an increase in volume sales for 2017 in comparison to the previous year.”

Pepsico (NYSE:PEP) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $129.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “PepsiCo’s shares outperformed the industry to which it belongs in the past 12 months. The company has been doing well on the back of significant innovation, continued momentum in Frito-Lay business, revenue management strategies, improved productivity and cost-saving initiatives, along with better market execution. Moreover, it has been seeing higher volumes and profits in the North American segments due to an improving economy, better industry pricing dynamics and a consistency in positive innovation. It rolled out several products recently which management believes will drive sales and profits in 2017. That said, growing health awareness has been hurting the CSD category, resulting in a 3% volume decline in the first half of 2017 in North America. Again, rising volatility in global markets and increasing currency headwinds may dampen growth.”

Dave & Buster’s Entertainment (NASDAQ:PLAY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $65.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Dave & Buster's shares have outpaced the industry over the past year. The company’s unique business model with increased dependence on gaming sets it apart and we expect the company’s entertainment business to carry the growth story forward. Consistent efforts to build sales and improve margins through various initiatives have also been key growth drivers. In this regard, continual opening of stores, menu innovation, launch of games, and the Fun American New Gourmet and beverage options are expected to continue boosting its top and bottom lines. In fact, the first quarter of fiscal 2017 marked the tenth successive earnings beat for the company. Estimates too have been going slightly up ahead of its fiscal second quarter earnings release. However, rising labor costs and a non-franchised business model might hurt profits, while a soft consumer spending environment in the U.S. restaurant space could impact comps.”

Premier Oil PLC (OTC:PMOIY) was upgraded by analysts at Jefferies Group LLC from a hold rating to a buy rating.

Restaurant Brands International (NYSE:QSR) (TSE:QSR) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $69.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Restaurant Brands’ shares have widely outpaced its industry over the past year. Going forward, various sales-boosting initiatives like improving services, reimaging restaurants, menu innovation along with continued expansion should drive the top line. In fact, the company believes that there is opportunity to grow both the Tim Hortons and Burger King brands across the world. The acquisition of Popeye’s also bodes well as it adds a solid brand to its portfolio, which should further ramp up unit growth and aid in reducing costs. Moving ahead, the company aims to continue focusing on guest satisfaction and franchisee profitability, which it believes will drive long-term growth of brands. However, rising costs along with negative currency translation might dent the company’s profitability, while a soft consumer spending environment could keep comps under pressure.”

Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Rite Aid is yet to recover from the setback suffered due to the termination of its merger deal with Walgreens. This along with the company’s negative surprise trend in recent quarters has led the stock to underperform the industry in the last three months. Also, Rite Aid continues to battle lower pharmacy reimbursement rates that hurt margins in first-quarter fiscal 2018. Moreover, sales remained soft in the quarter. However, Rite Aid's all cash deal with Walgreens to sell certain Rite Aid stores and related assets to the latter, looks good. This will help in lowering Rite Aid’s debt and improving financial flexibility, making it a smaller, yet stronger independent firm with solid control in key markets. Further, the company's stringent focus on cost management and strengthening its portfolio of health and wellness services also remain impressive. Estimates have been stable ahead of the company's second quarter earnings release.”

Schroders Plc (OTC:SHNWF) was upgraded by analysts at Macquarie from an underperform rating to a neutral rating.

SLM Corporation (NASDAQ:SLM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Sallie Mae have outperformed the industry over the past year. This price performance is backed by impressive earnings surprise history. The company has surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in two of the trailing four quarters. It remains focused on strengthening its Private Education Loan assets and revenues and maintaining a strong capital position. Also, the economic recovery and declining unemployment rate should help it maintain its leading position in the student lending market. However, a competitive business environment and consistently increasing expenses remain near-term concerns. Further, Sallie Mae faces concentration risk due to over dependence on brokered deposits.”

S&P Global (NYSE:SPGI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $170.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “S&P Global’s portfolio restructuring efforts and focus on core businesses are likely to drive growth in the future. This apart, strategic acquisitions and positive industry trends augur well for long-term growth. The acquisition of SNL Financial is a strategic fit for S&P Global as its business is in sync with the S&P Capital IQ and Platts businesses, which will help the latter to avail cost cuts and generate revenue synergies. The company’s Standard & Poor's Ratings Services appears to be a long-term growth driver as corporate and U.S. structured finance issuance is picking up momentum with increasing capital infusion in the economy as well as positive growth in M&A activity. The company outperformed the industry year to date. Management further increased its guidance on favorable growth dynamics. However, its performance is likely to be hurt by lower volume of debt securities issued in the capital markets.”

Toromont Industries (TSE:TIH) was upgraded by analysts at Canaccord Genuity from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have C$58.00 price target on the stock, up from their previous price target of C$50.00.

Tilly’s (NYSE:TLYS) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $12.00 price target 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. “

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