Equities Research Analysts’ downgrades for Tuesday, February 13th:

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Applied Materials has outperformed the industry it belongs to in the past 12 months. The stock is currently riding on inflection-focused innovation strategy which is its primary growth driver. The company continues to witness technological advancements in semiconductor and display areas. Applied Materials is in a great position to grow sustainably and profitably based on its strong pipeline of enabling technologies, supported by expanding opportunities on the semiconductor and display fronts. 3D NAND, DRAM and patterning have led to significant market share gains. Nevertheless, high fixed cost structure and customer concentration remain concerns.”

Associated Banc (NYSE:ASB) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Associated Banc-Corp’s shares have underperformed the industry in the past six months. Yet, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. The company’s fourth-quarter 2017 results benefited from higher net interest income and absence of provision for loan losses. Higher interest rates, rise in loan demand and improving asset quality will continue to support its profitability. Acquisitions of Bank Mutual and Whitnell will likely be accretive to its earnings. Also, lower tax rates are expected to help the company’s financials. However, mounting expenses are likely to hurt bottom-line growth. Also, the company's increased dependence on commercial loans remains a key near-term concern.”

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Bank of America’s shares have outperformed the industry, over the past six months. This price performance is backed by impressive earnings surprise history as the company surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing four quarters. The company’s fourth-quarter 2017 earnings benefited from higher interest income and investment banking fees as well as lower operating expenses. Rising interest rates, increase in loan and deposit balances, and efforts to manage expenses are expected to continue supporting profitability. The bank’s efforts to streamline and simplify operations as well as gains from the new tax act will aid its financial performance. However, fall in mortgage banking income due to lower volumes and a decline in refinancing activity along with uncertainty related to performance of capital markets remain major concerns.”

BankUnited (NYSE:BKU) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of BankUnited have outperformed the industry in the past six months. Also, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing four quarters. Further, the company’s fourth-quarter 2017 results reflect higher revenues and lower credit costs. Consistent growth in loans and deposits, and efforts to strengthen fee income sources are expected to drive revenues. The company is well positioned to grow through acquisitions, given its strong liquidity position. However, continued margin pressure (despite increase in interest rates) remains a major concern for the company. Also, persistently increasing expenses hurt its profitability to some extent. Further, a stretched valuation indicates limited upside potential for the stock.”

BOK Financial (NASDAQ:BOKF) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of BOK Financial have outperformed the industry over the past six months. The company has a decent earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in two out of the trailing four quarters. The company’s fourth-quarter 2017 earnings reflected decreased loans, rise in revenues and decline in expenses. We believe the diverse revenue mix and favorable geographic footprint will support growth in the upcoming quarters. The company's continuous expansion via acquisitions is also expected to aid top-line growth. Moreover, increasing loan balances and easing margin pressure are positives. However, consistently mounting costs remain a near-term headwind. Also, significant exposure toward brokerage and trading revenues amid challenging trading environment is a major concern.”

BOX (NYSE:BOX) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Box’s top line has been gaining traction driven by strength across international markets, growing add-on products and positive contribution from its strategic partnership with Microsoft. The company is currently working on enriching its cloud content management and AI platforms. It made some notable partnership extensions in this regard in fiscal third-quarter 2018 with Apple and Microsoft. Box has a rich technology partner ecosystem and it rides on strong free cash flow, billings and retention rate. On the negative side, the company has been incurring losses since its inception and does not expect profits in the foreseeable future. In past 12 months, the stock has underperformed the industry it belongs to.”

Commerce Bancshares (NASDAQ:CBSH) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Commerce Bancshares have underperformed the industry in the past six months. Nonetheless, the company’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. Its fourth-quarter 2017 results benefited from higher revenues, partly offset by higher expenses and a rise in provisions. Strong loans and deposit balances and higher interest rates will continue to support revenue growth. Further, lower tax rates will aid profitability. However, continuously rising expenses are expected to hurt bottom-line growth, going forward. Also, the company's significant exposure to real estate loans remains a major cause of concern.”

Dean Foods (NYSE:DF) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Dean Foods is witnessing increased optimism on the smart volume initiative, which is expected to aid results. This initiative is aimed at improving top-line, building margins and creating operating efficiencies. In third-quarter 2017, the company’s results gained from overall solid sales execution and stringent progress on its smart volumes initiative, which helped in wining some new business for 2018. On the flip side, the company has been witnessing a dismal sales trend evident from the second straight quarter miss in third-quarter due to soft volumes, higher raw milk costs, and loss of share in U.S. fluid milk volumes. This led Dean Foods to underperform the sector in the past month. Nevertheless, the company expects to bring more smart volumes into its system to aid top line growth. The company’s initiatives to strengthen brands and diversify portfolio also bode well.”

Encana (NYSE:ECA) (TSE:ECA) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Based on the number of near-term challenges, we are lowering our investment thesis for Encana Corp. to Sell from Hold. With natural gas unable to break through the $3 barrier, the company’s earnings and cash flows are bound to suffer, at least in the near-to-medium term. This is expected to limit its ability to deliver positive earnings surprises. Also, the recent equity offering – despite helping ECA to pay down debt and boost drilling – has significantly diluted existing shareholders' equity. Therefore, ahead of its second-quarter results, we see the company as a risky bet that is best avoided at the moment.”

Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Expedia’s fourth-quarter 2017 results were disappointing. Earnings declined on a year-over-year basis despite top-line growth. Higher selling and marketing expenses hurt bottom-line in the quarter. Expedia expects cost of revenues to grow slightly faster than revenues in 2018. Management also expects technology and content expense to grow significantly faster than revenues, primarily due to an increase in cloud spending and the impact of key investments. We believe that increased investments, intensifying competition across geographic regions and discounts offered by larger chain hotels can make margin expansion difficult in the long haul. In past 12 months, the stock has underperformed the industry it belongs to.”

Huntington Bancshares (NASDAQ:HBAN) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Huntington have outperformed the industry over the past six months. Yet, the company doesn’t have a decent earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in one of the trailing four quarters. Fourth-quarter 2017 results reflected Huntington’s robust organic growth, partially offset by higher expenses. With the Fed rate hikes, margin pressure for the company finally seems to be easing. Moreover, rising loans and deposits along with improved credit quality are tailwinds. Further, a lower corporate tax rate is likely to support financials. Also, the company's strong liquidity position keeps it well poised to expand through strategic initiatives, which will support profitability in the long run. However, increasing cost base continues to deter bottom-line growth. Also, unsustainable capital deployment activities keep us apprehensive.”

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE) was downgraded by analysts at OTR Global to a positive rating.

iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Over the last three months, iRobot’s shares have underperformed and looks overvalued compared to the industry. Lingering headwinds such as stiff industry rivalry or a sudden supply chain issue might hurt the company’s near-term revenues and profitability. However, iRobot reported robust fourth-quarter 2017 results. Quarterly adjusted earnings of 54 cents per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 26 cents. This upside stemmed from a solid home robotics business in all end markets across the United States, Europe and the EMEA region. The company believes sturdy demand, new innovation investments and Robopolis integration moves will continue to boost its results in the quarters ahead.”

KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “KeyCorp’s shares have outperformed the industry over the past six months. Also, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history, not lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. The company’s fourth-quarter 2017 results benefited from higher revenues and stable expenses. The bank remains well positioned for revenue growth, given a rising rate environment and improving loan and deposit balances. Improving credit quality and enhanced capital deployment activities are the other positives. Also, corporate tax rate cut will aid profitability to some extent. However, persistently increasing expenses owing to investments in franchise and acquisitions are likely to hurt bottom-line growth. Further, the company's significant exposure toward risky loan portfolios remains a major cause of concern.”

Nationstar Mortgage (NYSE:NSM) was downgraded by analysts at Piper Jaffray Companies from a neutral rating to an underweight rating.

Bank Of The Ozarks (NASDAQ:OZRK) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Bank of the Ozarks have outperformed the industry over the last six months. Moreover, the company has a decent earnings surprise history. Its earnings did not lag the Zacks Consensus Estimate in any of the trailing four quarters. Its fourth-quarter 2017 results benefited from higher net interest income and lower provisions. Consistent growth in loans and deposits along with benefits from lower tax rates are expected to aid the company’s profitability. Also, its efficient capital deployment activities represent a solid balance sheet position. However, persistently rising expenses due to the company’s expansion strategy through de novo branching remains a concern. Also, margin pressure despite higher interest rates makes us apprehensive.”

Prosperity Bancshares (NYSE:PB) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Prosperity Bancshares have outperformed the industry in the past six months. The company surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in two of the trailing four quarters. The bank’s fourth-quarter 2017 results benefited from a rise in net interest income partly offset by higher expenses and fall in non-interest income. Growth in loan and deposit balances and stable expense levels along with steady improvement in asset quality will support profitability. Also, the company is expected to benefit from lower tax rates. However, pressure on revenues and net interest margin (despite improving rate scenario) remain major concerns for the company. Further, high exposure to risky real estate loans makes us apprehensive.”

SVB Financial Group (NASDAQ:SIVB) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of SVB Financial have significantly outperformed the industry over the past six months. The performance was supported by impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each the trailing four quarters. Its fourth-quarter 2017 results depict revenue growth. The company remains well positioned to capitalize on future opportunities driven by sturdy capital position, an improved rate scenario, global expansion efforts and consistent growth in loans and deposits. However, mounting operating expenses owing to the company’s efforts to expand globally will likely weigh on its financials in the near term. Also, deteriorating asset quality and stretched valuation limit the stock’s upside potential.”

Standard Motor Products (NYSE:SMP) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Standard Motor has been witnessing year over year decline in revenues and it seems that it will follow the same trend in coming quarters as well. Further, a cooler summer in 2017 resulted in lower sales for its Temperature Control segment. The segment expects a sharper decline in products’ demand in the fourth-quarter of 2017. Also, temporary costs of plant-location shifts are hampering its financials. Over a year, Standard Motor’s shares have underperformed the industry it belongs to.”

TCF Financial (NYSE:TCF) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of TCF Financial have outperformed the industry over the past six months. Yet, the company’s earnings surprise history is not impressive. It missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in three of the trailing four quarters. In fourth-quarter 2017, the company witnessed higher expenses and provisions, partially offset by robust organic growth. TCF Financial’s revenues continue to be hurt by the consistently declining banking fees over the last few years. Also, mounting costs due to increasing staff level is expected to impact bottom line. However, increasing loans and strong deposit mix will likely aid profitability. The company has been also benefiting from improving credit quality in consumer real estate portfolio and has witnessed enhanced profitability ratios as well, which keeps us encouraged.”

Top Image Systems (NASDAQ:TISA) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Top Image Systems, Ltd., develops and markets form processing, information recognition and data entry software, systems and technologies. The company’s software minimizes the need for manual data-entry by automatically reading and processing the information contained in forms, increasing data capture accuracy and the rate of information processing. TiS’ award-winning AFPSPro software provides a complete, cost-effective, reliable solution for mid to high-volume production form processing. (PRESS RELEASE) “

Tutor Perini (NYSE:TPC) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Tutor Perini Corporation provides diversified general contracting, construction management and design-build services to private clients and public agencies worldwide. The company operates in four segments: Civil, Building, Specialty Contractors, and Management Services. The Civil segment engages in public works construction activities and the repair, replacement, and reconstruction of infrastructure. The Building segment offers services in specialized building markets, including hospitality and gaming, transportation, healthcare, municipal offices, sports and entertainment, education, correctional facilities, biotech, pharmaceutical, industrial, and high technology. The Specialty Contractors segment provides plumbing, HVAC, electrical, mechanical, and concrete services for the industrial, commercial, hospitality and gaming, and transportation markets. The Management Services segment offers construction and design-build services to the U.S. military and government agencies, and multi-national corporations. “

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Tesla incurred an adjusted loss of $3.04 per share in fourth-quarter 2017, narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of $3.19. Revenues increased to $3.29 billion from $2.28 billion registered in fourth-quarter 2016. The figure came in lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.30 billion. The company is making serious efforts to address Model 3 production bottlenecks and ramping up energy storage products. The company continues to target weekly Model 3 production rates of 2,500 by the end of first-quarter 2018 and 5,000 by the end of second-quarter 2018. Tesla is also focused on geographical expansions and acquisitions for growth. The company is also rapidly developing a network of superchargers. However, high research and development costs, low number of chargers and high requirement of capital expenditure are some headwinds.”

TELUS (NYSE:TU) (TSE:T) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “TELUS reported weak fourth-quarter 2017 financial results, with both the bottom line ad top line lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Moreover, TELUS continues to face fierce competition in both the wireless and wireline segments. In the wireless segment, it competes against Rogers Communications and Bell Canada. Cable TV operators such as Shaw Communications poses threat on the wireline side. In the past three months, the stock declined 5.4% as against the industry's 2% loss.However, TELUS continues to benefit from massive wireless subscriber gain, increased penetration of smartphones, higher average revenue per unit, accelerating wireless data services and growing wireline fiber optic networks. Buyout of Voxpro will expand TELUS International's U.S. track. The company has consolidated its foothold in the Internet of Things market and is focusing on its PureFibre network business.”

Titan International (NYSE:TWI) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Titan International, Inc. is a leading global manufacturer of off-highway wheels, tires, assemblies, and undercarriage products. The company globally produces a broad range of products to meet the specifications of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and aftermarket customers in the agricultural, earthmoving/construction, and consumer markets. “

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong-buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Twitter reported strong fourth-quarter 2017 results. Shares have also outperformed the industry in the past one year. The company's initiatives to make tweeting easier for people and more expressive are expected to boost user growth rate and engagement levels. Growing adoption of video ad products coupled with Twitter’s focus on live video streaming will bring more ad dollars. Besides, growth in Japan and other Asia Pacific markets is a positive. Moreover, aggressive cost cutting also helped Twitter to achieve long term EBITDA margin target. However, lack of revenue diversification is a major concern for the company. Increasing competition and stringent regulations for social media platforms continue to remain overhangs.”

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