Inside the Market's roundup of some of today's key analyst actions. This file will be updated often during the trading day so check back for new details.
Apple Inc.'s Watch is "more risk than reward," Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt said. He downgraded the company's stock to "market perform" from "outperform" ahead of the company's second-quarter 2015 results.
The analyst said comparable same-store sales, or comps, for 2016 will be "quite difficult," and that early reviews suggest that the Apple Watch will fall short of the "insanely great" benchmark.
"Given a valuation roughly in line with its large-cap tech peers and the S&P 500, we believe the shares will remain range-bound warranting a market perform rating," Mr. McCourt said.
The analyst did have some good news, however. He raised his revenue and earnings per share outlook on iPhone strength in China. Mr. McCourt's 2015 EPS estimate now $8.49 (U.S.), up from $8.13.
The analyst does not think the iPhone's strength will continue though. He reduced his forecast for 2016 to 215 million units, versus 226 million for 2015.
"Whether investors overreact to the iPhone  slowdown in this cycle as they did in the iPhone 5 cycle is uncertain, but we believe the most likely scenario is a range-bound stock (rather than a meaningful pullback), as there appear to be few obvious investment alternatives currently given the strong U.S. dollar and slowing global economy, which is impacting growth at nearly every large global corporation."
Mr. McCourt did not list a target price. Consensus is $139.59, according to Thomson Reuters.
Netflix Inc.'s recent pullback, which is likely a result of competition concerns, "provides an opportunity for long-term bulls," Citigroup Global Markets Inc. analyst Mark May said. He upgraded the stock to "buy" from "neutral."
"We believe investors are paying reasonable multiples for the more established North American and U.K./Ireland markets, but little to nothing for other international markets that in total represent a $350-million (U.S.) broadband household opportunity," the analyst said.
Mr. May also noted that Netflix's content line-up has improved in 2015 and that the well-reviewed content is likely to "bode well" for subscriber growth.
Using a sum-of-the-parts valuation framework, the analyst said he has upside scenarios of share prices "north of $750."
However, despite that high potential valuation he raised his target only to $525 from $409 previously, still representing a 19.5-per-cent return. Consensus is $451.41, according to Thomson Reuters.
Methanex Corp. has had a strong showing so far in 2015, up 23 per cent, but TD Securities analyst Robert Palmer thinks the share price appreciation and the potential for methanol prices to be range-bound near current levels could begin weighing on the stock. He downgraded Methanex to "hold" from "buy."
Mr. Palmer said methanol spot prices declined rapidly in the first-quarter of 2015, which have forced him to reduce his Methanex second-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) estimate to $92-million (U.S.) from $131-million. He did note, however, that the sharp reduction has only minimally impacted his annual forecast.
There are indications that methanol prices have bottomed-out though. "Although the short-term outlook for methanol has become less positive, we believe that the medium- to long-term fundamentals remain attractive," the analyst said.
Nevertheless, the analyst said that "further upside in [Methanex's] share price may be limited in the context of range-bound methanol prices.
Mr. Palmer's maintained his target price of $60 (U.S.) . Consensus is $61.70, according to Thomson Reuters.
Element Financial Corp. has increased its 2015 outlook for financial assets and operating leases by $2.6-billion or 21 per cent, projecting to finish the year with $16.9-billion in total assets. Credit Suisse analyst Nick Stodgill says that update shows Element's increased confidence in its ability to execute growth through acquisitions.
"We view acquisitions as a core competency of management with EFN acquiring seven businesses and completing several asset purchases in the last five years," he said. "Management commentary has emphasized tuck-in acquisitions with EFN having scalable platforms."
He estimates Element could acquire $300-800-million in assets at 1- to 1.5-times price-to-book without the need to raise equity and add 3 to 7 per cent to the share price.
Mr. Stodgill maintained his "outperform" rating and raised his target price to $20 from $17.50. Consensus is $19.69.
Metro Inc. should benefit from a combination of inflation and the execution of its strategy in a competitive environment, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Irene Nattel.
She is forecasting a second-quarter 2015 EBITDA increase of 8.6 per cent to $183-million and an 18-per-cent increase in earnings per share to 42 cents.
Ms. Nattel says key themes for Metro in the second quarter are: its ability to pass along a 4.8-per-cent rise in food price inflation to consumers; ongoing and stable investment in its margins; modest revenue from its acquisition of baker Première Moisson and contributions to earnings per share from share buybacks.
She is maintaining her "outperform" rating and raising her target price to $37 from $35. The analyst consensus is $33.35.
In other analyst actions:
Apple was downgraded to "market perform" from "outperform" at Raymond James. It removed its $124 (U.S.) target.
Espial Group Inc. was rated new "buy" at Global Maxfin. The 12-month target price is $5.25 (Canadian) per share.
Snipp Interactive Inc. was rated new "buy" at Octagon. The 12-month target price is 92 cents (Canadian) per share.
Parex Resources Inc. was downgraded to "hold" from "buy" at Canaccord Genuity. The target price is $9 (Canadian) per share.
Supremex Inc. was rated new "top pick" at Cormark Securities. The 12-month target price is $5.25 (Canadian) per share.
Domtar Corp. was downgraded to "market perform" from "outperform" at BMO Capital Markets. The target price is $42 (U.S.) per share.
Petro-Victory Energy Corp. was downgraded to "hold" from "speculative buy" at Canaccord Genuity.
Cirrus Logic Inc. was rated new "overweight" at Piper Jaffray. The 12-month target price is $38 (U.S.) per share.
Citrix Systems Inc. was downgraded to "market perform" from "outperform" at William Blair.
Extreme Networks Inc. was downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" at DA Davidson. The 12-month target price is $2.75 (U.S.) per share. The company was also downgraded to "hold" from "buy" at Wunderlich, whith a target price of $2.80 (U.S.) per share.
Gigamon Inc. was raised to "outperform" from "market perform" at William Blair.
Global Payments Inc. was raised to "overweight" from "equal-weight" at First Analysis. The 12-month target price is $120 (U.S.) per share.
Knight Transportation Inc. was raised to "buy" from "hold" at Stifel. The 12-month target price is $35 (U.S.) per share.
Tilly's Inc. was downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" at B. Riley. The 12-month target price is $17 (U.S.) per share.
Union Pacific Corp. was raised to "buy" from "hold" at Stifel. The 12-month target price is $120 (U.S.) per share.
With files from Bloomberg News