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.
CIBC World Markets upgraded Bank of Montreal to "sector performer" from "sector underperformer" after seeing signs of progress in its latest quarterly results.
CIBC analysts, led by Robert Sedran, were especially pleased with the improved results at BMO's Personal and Commercial Banking Canada unit.
"With the benefit of seeing all of the banks' results, we have decided to make a ratings change," Mr. Sedran explained in a research note.
"This bank has seen the Canadian P&C Bank's numbers show solid momentum in the last couple of quarters in what we see as a momentum business where this improved performance can be sustained for a period. The margin has stabilized, asset growth remains robust and operating leverage has been solidly positive," he said.
"Meanwhile, the U.S. business is at least stable, rather than acting as a drag on earnings. Especially with the currency tailwind, the outlook here has improved as well," Mr. Sedran added.
The CIBC analysts raised their price target on BMO by $1 to $79 (Canadian). Their favourite two banks remain TD Bank and Royal Bank of Canada; they give both "sector outperformer" ratings. Only National Bank is now given a "sector underperformer" rating by CIBC.
Shares of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. are "grossly mis-priced" considering the value of the company's assets, says CIBC World Markets analyst Leon Esterhuizen.
Ivanhoe is famous for finding high-quality ore bodies, says Mr. Esterhuizen, such as its Kamoa and Platreef projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa, respectively.
"At the current valuation, we find Ivanhoe grossly mis-priced for its unique assets and the potential for more discoveries, he says in a research note. "Assets like these at this low valuation are not likely to stay off the radar. We believe if investors ignore this opportunity, corporates and/or sovereigns will take it."
Mr. Esterhuizen maintains his "sector outperformer" rating and is increasing his price target to $5.20 (Canadian) from $4.40. The analyst consensus price target over the next year is $3.84, according to Thomson Reuters.
Also today, UBS upgraded Ivanhoe Mines to "buy" from "neutral" and maintained a $2.50 (Canadian) price target.
Analysts are aggressively raising their price targets on Easyhome after the company reported another quarter of better-than-expected financial results.
The results were even strong enough to prompt at least one brokerage to upgrade its rating: BMO Nesbitt Burns now rates Easyhome "outperform" instead of "market perform" as it raised its price target to $23 (Canadian) from $15.
Raymond James analyst Frederic Bastien raised his price target to $22 from $16 while maintaining an "outperform" rating. "We continue to view the stock favourably as recent investments in people, processes and infrastructure have positioned Easyhome for profitable growth in the $1.5-billion Canadian market for unsecured consumer installment loans," Mr. Bastien said in a research note.
Easyhome's earnings per share in the fourth quarter of 33 cents beat the consensus forecast of 29 cents. Mr. Bastien was particularly pleased with the company's strong operating results and lower interest expenses at its easyfinancial unit.
Elsewhere, Beacon Securities raised its price target on Easyhome to $30 (Canadian) from $22.50 and maintained a "buy" rating.
In other analyst actions:
Raymond James upgraded Bird Construction to "outperform" from "market perform" and hiked its price target to $16 (Canadian) from $12.
BMO Nesbitt Burns hiked its price target on Canadian Natural Resources to $48 (Canadian) from $40 and kept an "outperform" rating. Desjardins raised its price target to $49 (Canadian) from $47 and maintained a "buy" rating.
RBC Dominsion Securities upgraded Secure Energy Services to "outperform" from "sector perform" and hiked its price target by $1 to $21 (Canadian).
Raymond James raised its price target on Fission Uranium to $2.40 (Canadian) from $2 and maintained a "strong buy" rating.
Macquarie upgraded Sirius XM Radio to "outperform" from "neutral" with a price target of $4 (U.S.).
UBS upgraded Safeway to "neutral" from "sell" and raised its price target to $40 (U.S.) from $27.
UBS cut its price target on Staples to $12 (U.S.) from $16 and maintained a "neutral" rating.
Credit Suisse upgraded GT Advanced Technologies to "outperform" from "neutral" and raised its target to $24 (U.S.) from $18.
Goldman Sachs initiated coverage on Canadian Solar with a "neutral" rating and $43.40 price target.
raymond James raised its price target on Joy Global to $60 (U.S.) from $57 and maintained a "market perform" rating.
For more analyst actions, breaking investing news and analysis, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities