Stock Analysts’ upgrades for Wednesday, September 6th:

Accenture PLC (NYSE:ACN) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $145.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Accenture offers management consultancy, technology and outsourcing services. Shares of the company have outperformed the industry over the past year. We are positive about Accenture’s latest product additions in the analytics application space, given the increasing demand for digital solutions. Moreover, Accenture’s strategy of growing through partnerships like Apple and acquisitions like VERAX are encouraging. The strategies have enabled Accenture to enter new markets, diversify and broaden its product portfolio, and maintain its leading position. Nonetheless, Accenture’s recent announcement of creating 15K new jobs by 2020 and investment plan of $1.4 billion for employee training and opening of 10 innovation centers across the U.S. cities may dent its bottom-line results in our opinion. Furthermore, increasing competition from peers and an uncertain macroeconomic environment may deter its growth to some extent.”

Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $221.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Anthem’s shares have outperformed the industry in last one year. The company’s diverse product portfolio has helped in improving underwriting results. Anthem’s strategic acquisitions, divestitures and ACO arrangements further pave the way for long-term growth. Its rising level of medical membership continues to boost the top line. The company’s strong capital position backs effective capital deployment. Its frequent share buyback programs and regular dividend payments primarily aim at enhancing shareholders’ value. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 and 2018 earnings being revised upward over the last 60 days. Followed by strong results in first half of 2017, the company has raised the earnings and revenue guidance for 2017.”

Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $54.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Though, Big Lots’ shares have underperformed the industry in a month, the trend might reverse in the near term owing to better-than-expected second-quarter fiscal 2017 results and encouraging earnings outlook. Moreover, the top line also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate after missing the same in the trailing four quarters on account of robust performance of furniture and soft home. Following the results, management raised fiscal 2017 earnings guidance but remained somewhat cautious about its sales and comparable store sales performance. Sales growth for the full year is predicted to be in the range of 2-2.5%, compared with earlier guided range of 2-3%. Meanwhile, its furniture financing programs have been consistently gaining traction. However, the challenging retail landscape, aggressive promotional strategies and waning store traffic might weigh on the performance.”

Electronics for Imaging (NASDAQ:EFII) was upgraded by analysts at Longbow Research from an underperform rating to a neutral rating.

Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE:FMX) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $109.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “FEMSA outperformed the broader industry in the year so far. The company is on track to drive growth through strategic measures, including increasing store count, diversifying business portfolio and focusing on core business activities. Further, its exposure in various industries including beverage, beer and retail, gives it an edge over competitors. Also, FEMSA's strong cash flow generation capacity enables it to make incremental investments in business expansion. However, second-quarter 2017 results marked its fourth consecutive earnings miss, while sales lagged estimates for the second straight time. Moreover, the company continued to witness margin pressures due to decline in margins at Coca-Cola FEMSA and lower-margin businesses growth at FEMSA Comercio, as well as higher operating expenses at Coca-Cola FEMSA and FEMSA Comercio’s Health division. Nevertheless, FEMSA's focus on achieving growth via acquisitions bode well.”

Fossil Group (NASDAQ:FOSL) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Fossil have been underperforming the industry since past many quarters, primarily due to a decline in the company's in traditional watches, softness in leather and jewelry business and tough retail landscape. The company is also facing economic challenges in many of its key international markets. Notably, the company’s sales have lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate in nine out of the last 11 straight quarters. Though the Watches category is likely to remain sluggish due to increased competition from new entrants in the market and volatility in sales pattern, Fossil’s expansion in connected wearables and smartwatches are expected to gain momentum. Meanwhile, the company focuses on a restructuring program named New World Fossil, which aims at improving the financial performance of the Fossil brand and build an improved operating platform to drive long-term shareholder value.”

Infosys Limited (NYSE:INFY) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $16.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Infosys’ Renew New strategy has helped reap multiple benefits, including renewing traditional services, winning deals, introducing services and monetizing from key initiatives. Infosys’ relentless focus on commitment to execution helped it deliver constant currency revenue growth, margin improvement, record cash generation and high revenue per worker in  the fiscal first quarter. The company’s new offerings under its business platforms including Edge, Panaya and Skava are helping it gain new clients. The growth in the higher margin business and diligent operational execution are proving conducive to margin expansion. In addition, the company’s solid financial health adds to its strength. However, Infosys’ shares have underperformed the industry average over the past six months. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance, rising costs and on-site expansion pose as major headwinds.”

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $39.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Intel’s growing focus on the data-centric part of the business is positive. The launch of Xeon Scalable is anticipated to improve its footprint in the data center as well as AI space, going forward. The company unveiled Myriad X, which will boost footprint in the IoT space. Moreover, the recent Core 8 launch will boost PC market share amid intensifying competition from AMD. We note that the top-PC makers like HP, Lenovo, and Asus are set to launch PCs based on Qualcomm’s ARM-based Snapdragon processor, which is a headwind for the company. Further, anticipated improvement in cost structure and lower spending, primarily due to improving operational efficiency will aid in expansion of margins going forward. Additionally, aggressive share buyback will boost the bottom line in 2017. However, we note that Intel has underperformed the industry on a year-to-date basis. Moreover, declining PC-shipments is a concern.”

Magna International (NYSE:MGA) (TSE:MG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $54.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Estimates for Magna International for the third quarter have been going up of late. The company is well positioned to benefit from its leading position in the industry as well as its operational efficiency and diverse product portfolio. Moreover, its expansion strategies in emerging markets and focus on innovation for strong growth are expected to have a positive impact on its financials. Further, Magna International expects notable growth opportunities of its business through acquisitions and collaborations. The company also undertakes regular capital deployments in order to enhance shareholder value.”

Microsemi Corporation (NASDAQ:MSCC) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. The firm currently has $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.”

Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $97.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Motorola Solutions have outperformed its industry on a year-to-date basis. The company has an impressive track record with respect to earnings having surpassed estimates in each of the preceding four quarters. We expect the company to deliver impressive bottom-line performances in the coming quarters as well, driven by its strong product portfolio. In keeping with its growth-by-acquisition strategy, the company recently completed the acquisition of Kodiak Networks. The buyout has strengthened its software product portfolio. However, though positive on Motorola's growth by acquisition strategy, we note that costs associated with the mergers are limiting bottom-line growth. Moreover, currency related headwinds might hurt the stock going forward. The company's high debt levels also remain a concern.”

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE:MTU) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $6.75 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Mitsubishi UFJ’s shares on NYSE underperformed the industry over the last six months. Though the negative interest rates in Japan and global growth concerns, along with strict regulations, remain headwinds, strong capital ratios and organic growth will likely support the company’s bottom-line growth. Also, the company’s prospects look encouraging, as it remains focused on several strategies under its medium-term business plan (2016–2018) and global expansion.”

Patterson Companies (NASDAQ:PDCO) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “The Patterson Companies reported a mixed first quarter of fiscal 2017 wherein adjusted earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate, while revenues missed the same. Patterson Companies’ Dental platform sales dropped significantly on a year-over-year basis in the first quarter, thanks to declining consumables and dental equipment sales. The U.S. dental products distribution industry is highly competitive. Share price movement in the past three months has been disappointing with the stock trading below the broader industry. Furthermore, management expects headwinds in the technology-based equipment business to persist through fiscal 2018 as Patterson Companies has been shifting to the new go-to market strategy with an expanded technology-based product portfolio. Meanwhile, we are upbeat about the company’s Animal Health segment that witnessed strong sales in the last quarter.”

Scana Corporation (NYSE:SCG) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a sell rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “SCANA is well positioned in a positive regulatory environment, having a low risk business with outstanding customer growth and operational efficiency. The company also has an attractive and consistent dividend payout. This is noteworthy amidst the macro risks wherein most oil giants are cutting their dividends. However, SCANA Corp.’s price chart shows that it has lagged the industry over the last three months.  Westinghouse Electric Co., which is presently constructing a nuclear plant for SCANA, has filed for bankruptcy. Although Westinghouse is anticipated to finish the construction of nuclear reactors, SCANA might face delays and a significant increase in cost. Thus, the future earnings growth of the company looks uncertain.”

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 underperformed the industry over the past six months. Yet, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history. It hasn’t missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in any of the trailing four quarters. The company’s focus on strengthening its Private Education Loan assets and revenues along with maintaining a strong capital position bode well for the long term. 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.”

Telefonica SA (NYSE:TEF) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. They currently have $12.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Telefonica should benefit from the launch of video services in several Latin-American markets, widespread adoption of broadband and data services, pricing revision, network enhancement and strategic collaborations, continued focus on organic growth and portfolio optimization. Telefonica is also capitalizing on the opportunities in the digital world. However, the company continues to face stiff competition in the domestic and Latin-American markets. Notably, in Latin America, Telefonica competes with large global telecom operators like AT&T and America Movil. The fallout of the company’s IPO plans and downgradation by Moody's Investors Service was a major setback, apart from the company’s debt laden balance sheet. Over the past three months, shares of Telefonica declined 6.9% as against the industry's growth of 2.3%.”

Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a buy rating. Zacks Investment Research currently has $53.00 target price on the stock. According to Zacks, “Shares of Unum Group have outperformed industry in a year's time. Moreover, the company has witnessed its 2017 and 2018 estimates moving north over the last 60 days. The company’s premiums continue to increase, fueled by solid persistency levels in core business lines and sturdy volume of sales, along with solid benefits experience. Acquisitions have provided an additional support. Starmount Life Insurance Company buyout gave access to growth opportunities in the dental market, which is in sync with its strategy to focus more on the employee benefits business. A sustained favorable performance drives solid capital generation and strong financial flexibility aiding active capital deployment. Unum expects 2017 operating earnings to grow 5–8% over the 2016 level. However, exposure to low interest rate environment remains the key headwind affecting the Unum U.K. results.”

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