Inside the Market's roundup of some of today's key analyst actions. This file will be updated during the trading day. For breaking analyst actions prior to market open every day, read our Before the Bell morning report.
Zombie fans may love AMC Networks Inc. for "The Walking Dead," but the company has some ground to cover before its shares become a hit with investors, says Nomura Securities analyst Anthony DiClemente.
Mr. DiClemente sees three themes for AMC: a content strategy well-suited for Internet growth; an international growth strategy recently bolstered by its acquisition of Europe-based Chellomedia; and the company's status as a takeover target.
"However, given difficult viewership comparisons to the conclusion of Breaking Bad and a reduced slate of Mad Men, and having recently cancelled Low Winter Sun, we think AMCX -- a content company at its core -- simply needs a couple of new original scripted hits to replace its prior successes," said Mr. DiClemente.
He initiated coverage on AMC Networks with a "neutral" rating and a $70.00 (U.S.) price target - approximately where it's trading at today. The average analyst target is $77.13, according to Thomson Reuters.
Cogeco Cable Inc. shares are inexpensive relative to peers and the company should have a good 2014, especially given its exposure to the strengthening U.S. market, said CIBC World Markets analyst Robert Bek.
He upgraded Cogeco Cable to "sector outperformer" from "sector performer" and raised his price target to $56 (Canadian) from $53. That's still slightly below the average analyst target of $57.50.
Cogeco Cable this week reported solid fiscal first quarter financial results from operations. While subscriber metrics were a touch light, "in our minds, this takes a back seat to the strong EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and free cash flow execution exhibited in the quarter," Mr. Bek said in a research note.
He also raised his price target on parent Cogeco Inc. to $50 from $48 while maintaining a "sector performer" rating.
RBC Dominion Securities analyst Geoffrey Kwan thinks Canadian asset managers are poised for a prosperous 2014, and IGM Financial Inc. is his favourite of the bunch.
He raised his price target on IGM to $62 (Canadian) from $56 and reiterated an "outperform" rating. The average target among analysts is $56.94.
IGM's December assets under management surpassed Mr. Kwan's forecasts as industry conditions continue to improve. The outlook remains positive for the sector, he notes, given the improving macro environment should be positive for equity markets, net sales trends are improving, and investors are likely to move more money into higher-fee equity funds.
"IGM is our favourite name within the larger cap fund companies for the following reasons: (1) two positive catalysts are emerging as Investors Group and Mackenzie both have improving net redemption trends and historically, investors made the most money timing the inflection points on improving net redemption trends rather than waiting for net redemptions to turn positive; and (2) best risk-reward profile within the fundcos with an attractive valuation relative to peers and a dividend yield of 3.9 per cent," Mr. Kwan said in a research note.
Favourable conditions for the seniors housing industry has resulted in a ratings upgrade for Chartwell Retirement Residences.
RBC Dominion Securities analyst Neil Downey says seniors housing is now within his top three property sectors for the next one to three years, and that Chartwell should receive a "modest kicker" from its U.S.-dollar revenues thanks to a weak loonie.
Mr. Downey has an "outperform" rating now on Chartwell, up from "sector perform," and raised his price target to $11.50 (Canadian) from $11. The average analyst target is $11.13.
Bombardier Inc.'s Mexican operations continue to grow in output and scope, and are expected to contribute to the company's profitability, says BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Fadi Chamoun.
After a recent site tour, Mr. Chamoun noted that one of Bombardier's Mexican sites is now among the most productive plants in North America for the company, thanks to increasing demand from this continent as well as the Middle East and Asia.
"Following the conclusion of the site visit, we believe that BT (Bombardier Transportation), in particular BT Mexico (which is now the second largest site for BT globally), is on a strong footing with a positive outlook for improving revenues and profitability," says Mr. Chamoun.
He maintained an "outperform" rating and $6 (Canadian) price target. The average analyst target is $5.36.
Cantor Fitzgerald made several rating and price target changes for companies that make equipment in the agriculture sector. For a complete rundown of those, and its top picks, see this blog post.
In other analyst actions:
Goldman Sachs cut its price target on Lululemon to $55 (U.S.) from $60 and reiterated a "neutral" rating.
RBC initiated coverage of Power Corp. of Canada with an "outperform" rating and $35 (Canadian) price target. It began covering Power Financial with an "outperform" rating and $39 (Canadian) price target.
Beacon Research raised its price target on Petrowest to $1.60 (Canadian) from $1.25 and maintained a "buy" rating.
Raymond James upgraded Paladin Energy to "market perform" from "underperform" and hiked its price target to 50 cents (Canadian) from 30 cents.
CIBC World Markets downgraded Canexus to "sector performer" from "sector outperformer" and cut its price target to $7.50 (Canadian) from $9.
Canaccord Genuity upgraded New Zealand Energy to "speculative buy" from "hold" but cut its price target to 35 cents from 50 cents.
AltaCorp Capital initiated coverage on Exchange Income Corp. with an "outperform" rating and $29 (Canadian) price target.
Cantor Fitzgerald initiated coverage on PNI Digital Media with a "speculative buy" rating and $1.75 (Canadian) price target.
BMO Nesbitt Burns upgraded Intel to "outperform" from "market perform" with a price target of $31 (U.S.), up from $21.
Credit Suisse downgraded New Gold to "neutral" from "outperform" and cut its price target to $6.50 (U.S.) from $7.
Nomura Securities started coverage on several Internet stocks, including Twitter (neutral rating and $60 U.S. price target); Google (buy rating and $1,300 target); and Facebook (buy rating and $65 target).
Canaccord Genuity cut its price target on SodaStream International to $43 (U.S.) from $63 and maintained a "hold" rating.
Credit Suisse downgraded Petsmart to "neutral" from "outperform" and cut its price target to $70 (U.S.) from $78. UBS downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "buy" and cut its target to $72 from $82.
Credit Suisse upgraded Dick's Sporting Goods to "outperform" from "neutral" and raised its price target to $65 (U.S.) from $56.
Canaccord Genuity downgraded ExOne to "hold" from "buy" and cut its price target to $55 (U.S.) from $75.
For more analyst actions, breaking investing news and analysis, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities