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.
Quebecor Inc. shares are surging today after analysts said the telecom got a bargain in the wake of the federal government's wireless spectrum auction.
Quebecor paid $233-million for licenses in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, even though most analysts said the company - which owns wireless carrier Vidéotron - is unlikely to build out a national network.
Canaccord Genuity upgraded Quebecor to "buy" from "hold" and maintained a $27 (Canadian) price target. "Our fears regarding an excessive Vidéotron spectrum bill were unfounded," commented analyst Dvai Ghose.
Shares in Quebecor class B shares are up 8 per cent at midday at $25.50.
Investor and analyst reaction to Rogers Communications Inc.'s participation in the spectrum auction hasn't been nearly as upbeat. Rogers is paying a whopping $3.3-billion for wireless spectrum rights that covers two blocks in major markets across the country. That will make its debt levels much more challenging to pay off.
JPMorgan downgraded Rogers to "neutral" from "overweight" and cut its price target to $44 (Canadian) from $49. Cormark Securities lowered its rating to "market perform" from "buy" and sliced its price target to $47 from $50.
CIBC World Markets cut its price target to $42 from $44 while reiterating a "sector performer" rating. CIBC analyst Robert Bek noted that Rogers single-handedly accounted for 63 per cent of the total auction proceeds to the federal government. "Suffice to say, the amount spent was above expectations," Mr. Bek commented.
Rogers shares are up 0.2 per cent at midday at $42.86 on the TSX.
(For more analyst reaction to the spectrum auction, click here.)
Plans for smartwatches and high-definition TVs won't be enough to unshackle Apple Inc. from its current tight trading range for the next year or so, said Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes as he downgraded the stock to "equalweight" from "overweight" today.
"We believe it is time to step aside, given a maturing smartphone market. Eventually Apple could even see margin pressures as it adds advanced new features to new iPhones at similar price points later this year and into next (things like Sapphire glass, curved glass, new batteries, etc.)," Mr. Reitzes was quoted as saying by StreenInsider.com.
He is also concerned about increasing competitive pressures faced by Apple. Google's ecosystem, he notes, has largely been able to keep up with Apple and may even surpass it in five years.
"From a secular standpoint, we believe companies need to prepare product portfolios for the rising trend of the 'Internet of Things' and Google is assembling a list of potential acquisitions already," he said.
He believes Apple may need to increase research and development spending to keep up to pace in the Internet of Things - a broad term that refers to technology that enables communication among physical objects via the Internet.
Mr. Reitzes maintained a $570 (U.S.) price target. The average price target among analysts is $585.32, according to Thomson Reuters.
TD Securities analyst Scott Penner raised his price target on BlackBerry Ltd. to $10.50 (U.S.) from $9.50 after increasing valuation estimates on the company's BBM instant messaging service in response to Facebook's $19-billion purchase of WhatsApp.
Mr. Penner bumped up his valuation on BBM to $10 per user, or $800-million, from an earlier forecast of $5 per user, according to StreetInsider.com.
While one can not draw an entirely comparable valuation between BBM and WhatsApp, "engagement metrics of BBM stack up well with WhatsApp and this deal does highlight the value of messaging platforms," StreetInsider.com quoted him as saying.
"The valuation read-through is muddied by the big stock component (of the WhatsApp acquisition). Nevertheless, $19-billion for 450 million monthly users equates to $42 per user. Applying a similar multiple to the 80 million monthly users of BBM would imply a valuation of $3.36-billion or $6.41 per BBRY share," he said.
"There are some big differences when comparing valuations. For one, each of WhatsApp, Line, and WeChat is above or approaching 300-million users and could be argued can get to 1-billion. BBM has been 60 million to 80 million users for almost two years."
Mr. Penner maintained a "hold" rating on BlackBerry shares. The average price target among analysts is $7.30 (U.S.).
Investors should wait for a pullback to buy shares of Finning International Inc., said Desjardins Securities analyst Benoit Poirier.
The company's fourth-quarter results were in line with expectations, he wrote in a research note, adding: "While we are pleased with the strong free cash flow and improved metrics, the softer backlog and cautious outlook provide lower revenue visibility."
Mr. Poirier increased his price target to $31 (Canadian) from $29 and rates the stock "hold." M Partners also raised its price target to $37 from $32 and maintained a "buy" rating. The average price target among analysts is $29.28.
Desjardins Securities hiked its price target on Boralex Inc. to $15 (Canadian) from $12 after the power generation company introduced its first dividend on Wednesday. It maintained a "buy" rating.
"We believe the income proposition will create positive momentum and valuation multiple expansion for the shares by attracting new investors to BLX's fundamental long-term positive growth outlook," commented Desjardins analyst Jeremy Rosenfield.
BMO Nesbitt Burns also raised its price target on Boralex to $14 from $12.50 and maintained a "market perform" rating. The average Street target is $13.14.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s $3.1-billion purchase this week to acquire Devon Energy Corp.'s natural gas properties in Canada has prompted at least two analysts to raise their ratings on the stock.
Macquarie upgraded Canadian Natural to "outperform" from "neutral" and raised its price target to $46 (Canadian) from $37. Cormark Securities upgraded its rating to "buy" from "market perform," and raised its target to $45 from $40.
Desjardins Securities analyst Justin Bouchard raised his price target to $47 from $45 and maintained a "buy" rating.
"The acquisition amounts to the right assets at the right time at the right price," commented Mr. Bouchard. "The opportunistic acquisition adds significant inventory to the conventional portfolioand provides synergies with existing operations," he said.
The average Street target is $41.56.
In other analyst actions:
RBC Dominion Securities upgraded Barrick Gold to "outperform" from "sector perform" and raised its price target to $28 (U.S.) from $24.
Canaccord Genuity hiked its target on Goldcorp to $35 (Canadian) from $31.50 and maintained a "buy" rating.
RBC Dominion Securities raised its price target on Cameco to $26 (Canadian) from $23 and maintained an "outperform" rating.
Canaccord Genuity hiked its price target on Cargojet to $19.75 (Canadian) from $12.75 after the Canada Post contract win. It maintained a "buy" rating.
BMO Nesbitt Burns downgraded Killam Properties to "market perform" from "outperform," commenting that near-term growth prospects are less clear. It cut its price target to $11.75 (Canadian).
RBC Dominion Securities upgraded Asanko Gold to "outperform" from "sector perform" and raised its price target to $3.20 (Canadian) from $2.50.
Paradigm Capital raised its price target on Verde Potash PLC to $2 (Canadian) from $1.15 and maintained a "speculative buy" rating.
Evercore Partners downgraded Facebook to "equalweight" from "overweight" and cut its price target to $60 (U.S.) from $70, commenting that the cost of delivering increased engagement is higher than it's comfortable with.
Jefferies raised its price target on Tesla Motors to $220 (U.S.) from $190 and maintained a "buy" rating. Dougherty & Co. raised its target to $325 (U.S.) from $200 and maintained a "buy" rating.
Macquarie downgraded Goodrich Petroleum to "underperform" from "neutral" and cut its price target to $13 (U.S.) from $18.
Roth Capital downgraded Hecla Mining to "neutral" from "buy" and cut its price target to $3.50 (U.S.) from $3.75.
UBS raised its price target on Noranda Aluminum to $3.75 (U.S.) from $2.60 and maintained a "neutral" rating.
UBS downgraded SM Energy to "neutral" from "buy" and cut its price target to $82 (U.S.) from $94.
With a contribution from Sonali Verma. For more analyst actions, breaking investing news and analysis, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities