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.
RBC Dominion Securities analyst Stephen D. Walker upgraded Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. to "outperform" from "sector perform," believing that the stock's recent pullback offers an attractive entry point ahead of what will likely be a successful joint acquisition of Osisko Mining Corp.
Goldcorp on Monday said it is walking away from its hostile bid to buy Osisko Mining, clearing the way for Agnico-Eagle and Yamana Gold to take control of Osisko's prized Canadian Malartic mine.
The joint bid valued at $3.9-billion (Canadian) would see Yamana and Agnico take join control of most Osisko assets, while spinning out some exploration properties into a new company.
"We view the overall transaction as positive and accretive to (Agnico Eagle's) earnings per share and cash flow per share, and view recent share price weakness as creating an attractive entry point," Mr. Walker said in a research note.
He believes Agnico-Eagle deserves a premium valuation against mid-sized gold producers given his expectations of compounded annual production growth of 13 per cent over the next three years, positive free cash flow starting next year, and a diversified asset portfolio that's mainly in low-political risk jurisdictions.
"The Canadian Malartic mine offers AEM potential for improved purchasing and contractor savings as well as opportunities to optimize its labour force," Mr. Walker added. He thinks the joint acquisition of Osisko would boost earnings per share by 3 per cent and cash flow per share by 4 per cent.
He maintained a price target of $43 (U.S.). The analyst consensus price target for Agnico-Eagle over the next year is $35.26 (U.S.), according to Thomson Reuters.
TD Securities analyst Lennox Gibbs upgraded Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. to "buy" from "hold," believing that its proposal to buy botox-maker Allergan Inc. along with Bill Ackman could mean a great future for Valeant.
"The proposed transaction could substantially upgrade Valeant," StreetInsider.com quoted Mr. Gibbs as saying in a research note. "The resulting $81-billion market cap company would have three leading franchises, an improved organic growth footing, and a significantly improved balance sheet."
He raised his price target to $160 (U.S.) from $145, adding that irrespective of the outcome of the Allergan proposal, there's a good chance that Valeant will make a large accretive acquisition in the next 12 months.
Allergan has launched a shareholder rights plan as a roadblock against the joint hostile takeover offer from Valeant and Mr. Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management. The offer is worth $50-billion in cash and shares, and Valeant and Pershing have said they expect to squeeze $2.7-billion in costs out of the merged venture.
The analyst consensus price target for Valeant over the next year is $167 (U.S.).
Canadian National Railway Co.'s recent financial performance has resulted in a price target boost from Canaccord Genuity analyst David Tyerman, but his "hold" rating remains.
He says the company's outlook is positive, but a recent run-up in its share price - up more than 6 per cent in the past week - rules out a ratings upgrade.
"CNR looks expensive to us and there is a small negative return to our target, even though we are valuing CN with a premium valuation ... equivalent to a 16.0 times price-to-earnings multiple."
Mr. Tyerman increased his price target to $62.50 (Canadian) from $60.50. The analyst consensus price target over the next year is $58.95.
RBC Dominion Securities analyst Greg Pardy's recent meeting with the "Three Steves" of Suncor Energy Inc. has earned the company a price target boost.
Mr. Pardy's talk with Steve Williams, Steve Reynish and Steve Douglas – Suncor's CEO, interim CFO and investor relations Head, respectively – served to reinforce his confidence in the company's solid outlook.
"Suncor has transformed itself into a disciplined integrated (energy producer) with growth and a sustainable cash flow stream," he said. "We believe it is likely that Suncor will move from a discount to a premium debt-adjusted cash flow multiple as the company demonstrates consistent operating performance."
Mr. Pardy is maintaining his "outperform" rating and boosted his price target by $1 to $48 (Canadian). The analyst consensus price over the next year is $45.06.
A "turnaround story with attractive fundamentals" is how UBS analyst Humphrey Lee describes Manulife Financial Corp. as he initiates coverage of the Canadian insurer.
Mr. Lee likes Manulife's strengthened risk profile, enhanced hedging program, and improved business mix.
"Moreover, we feel the company's robust capital position should offer downside protection and represents a source of potential upside surprise if the macro environment improves," he says.
Mr. Lee gave Manulife a "buy" rating and $23 (Canadian) price target. The analyst consensus price target over the next year is $23.75.
In other analyst actions:
Raymond James cut its price target on Amica Mature Lifestyles to $9 (Canadian) from $10 and maintained an "outperform" rating. It cited disappointment over the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings.
Canaccord Genuity cut its price target on AuRico Gold to $6 (Canadian) from $7, citing higher longer-term capital costs, and maintained a "buy" rating.
Canaccord Genuity raised its price target on Canadian Pacific Railway to $182 (Canadian) from $178 and maintained a "hold" rating. Salman Partners also raised its target to $195 (Canadian) from $186 and maintained a "buy" rating.
Bernstein raised its price target on Encana to $20 (Canadian) from $18 and maintained a "market perform" rating.
Several analysts raised their price targets on Roxgold, including Jennings Capital increasing its target to $1.25 (Canadian) from 75 cents.
UBS started coverage on Sun Life Financial with "buy" rating and $41 (Canadian) price target.
Dundee Securities initiated coverage on Canfor with a "buy" rating and $32 (Canadian) price target.
Dundee Securities initiated coverage on Canfor Pulp with a "buy" rating and $14 (Canadian) price target.
Dundee Securities initiated coverage on International Forest Products with a "buy" rating and $21.50 (Canadian) price target.
Dundee Securities initiated coverage on West Fraser Timber with a "buy" rating and $60 (Canadian) price target.
Dundee Securities initiated coverage on Domtar with a "buy" rating and $132 (U.S.) price target.
Dundee Securities initiated coverage on Resolute Forest Products with a "buy" rating and $22 (U.S.) price target.
(The full research note from Dundee Securities on initiating coverage on the forestry sector can be found here.)
Credit Suisse upgraded Equifax to "outperform" from "neutral" and raised its price target to $80 (U.S.) from $65.
MKM Partners downgraded Eli Lilly to "neutral" from "buy" and maintained a $61 (U.S.) price target.
Barclays downgraded Harley-Davidson to "equalweight" from "overweight" and maintained a $70 (U.S.) price target.
Wells Fargo upgraded E*Trade to "outperform" from "market perform" and raised its valuation range to $25-28 from $21-24.
Macquarie upgraded AK Steel to "outperform" from "neutral" with a price target of $11 (U.S.).
Societe Generale upgraded Cabot Oil & Gas to "buy" from "hold" with a price target of $43 (U.S.).
BMO Nesbitt Burns raised its price target on Harley-Davidson to $80 (U.S.) from $72 and maintained an "outperform" rating.
For more analyst actions, breaking investing news and analysis, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities