Inside the Market's roundup of some of today's key analyst actions. This file will be updated during the trading day.
Jennings Capital Inc. analyst Dev Bhangui has downgraded Pure Technologies Ltd. after it missed second-quarter guidance.
Pure's top line came in at $20.5-million, just shy of Mr. Bhangui's estimate of $21-million, while gross margin was 71 per cent vs. his model of 76 per cent, resulting in earnings per share of $0.01 vs. his estimate of $0.07.
The miss is transitory, he explains. "The $0.06 EPS shortfall is attributed to the GM delta ($0.02) and $1.9m of one-time charges related to management restructuring and a $0.86m FX loss ($0.04). The GM miss is due to an unusual pass-through contract in Australia
carrying lower margins, and unfavourable timing for the recognition of higher margin inspection revenue. Opex increased on the hiring of field staff to support an increasing revenue profile."
Mr. Bhangui adds that contract wins continue and the second half of 2014 looks strong.
"Pure announced a further $33m in contract wins in Q2, bringing the backlog to $80m. Both the MD&A and management's commentary on the call offered several hints that the latter half of the year will be strong on revenue. Historically, Q3 has been seasonally weak due to pipeline unavailability. However, evolving technology has enabled PUR to inspect running pipelines without disrupting operations, narrowing the historical Q3 revenue gap. As such, we expect Q3 to be strong, followed by an even stronger Q4.
Mr. Bhangui is downgrading Pure to "hold" from "buy" – purely on valuation – and maintains his $8 (Canadian) target price. The analyst consensus price target is $8.13, according to Thomson Reuters.
RONA Inc.'s fortunes have improved slightly, but growth rates are not yet sustainable, according to CIBC World Markets analyst Mark Petrie.
"RONA is making progress," says Mr. Petrie. "Cost-cutting has been spot on. With the west red hot, Reno-Depot's momentum in QC and store closures in ON [same store sales] should turn positive. These improvements, however, are on top of a brutal last few years, and do not represent sustainable growth rates."
He adds that RONA's valuation gap to U.S. peers is relatively narrow, and with less favourable fundamentals and macro trends.
Mr. Petrie is maintaining his "sector underperformer" rating and $11 (Canadian) target price. The analyst consensus price target is $12.06, according to Thomson Reuters.
Aecon Group Inc. swung to a loss in the second quarter, but its growing backlog of projects bodes well for future earnings growth, Canaccord Genuity analyst Yuri Lynk said.
On Monday, the construction company posted an unexpected net loss of $12.2-million, mostly as a result of disappointment results in Aecon's mining division.
But Aecon's backlog is now up by more than 50 per cent year to date, within which margins continue to increase, Mr. Lynk said.
"Looking ahead, third-quarter bookings look solid and could push backlog into record territory."
He raised his target price on Aecon's stock to $23 (Canadian) while maintaining a "buy" rating. The analyst consensus price target is $21.31, according to Thomson Reuters.
Secure Energy Services Inc. not only surprised the Street with strong second-quarter earnings on Tuesday, but also announced a strategic acquisition, triggering several target price hikes.
The Calgary-based oilfield services provider said it had entered into a $107-million deal to acquire privately held Predator Midstream Ltd., which owns three rail terminals in Alberta for the transportation of crude oil.
"As Secure expands its capacity to terminal crude, provides oil purchase and resale services and moves crude by rail, the company is more fully integrating itself into the processing and flow of hydrocarbons in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin," Canaccord Genuity analyst John Bereznicki said.
He reiterated his "buy" recommendation and raised his target price on Secure's stock to $28 (Canadian) from $25.
Meanwhile, a number of other analysts implemented the following price hikes: RBC Dominion Securities to $28 (Canadian) from $24, BMO Nesbitt Burns to $26 from $22, TD Securities to $27 from $24, National Bank Financial to $28.50 from $25.50, and Mackie Research to $29.50 from $26.50.
Tahoe Resources Inc. had a solid second-quarter, but its stock's recent run-up may have limited the near-term upside, Raymond James analyst Chris Thompson said.
Tahoe's stock has been one of the best performers of the gold sector so far this year, and now trades at a premium to its peers.
Mr. Thompson maintained a "market perform" rating while raising his price target to $30 (Canadian) from $27.50.
"We are mindful of potential catalysts in the second half of 2014 that might provide opportunities to re-calibrate our thesis," he said.
TD Securities also raised its target price on Tahoe to $36 from $34 while maintaining a "buy" rating. The analyst consensus price target is $27.97, according to Thomson Reuters.
In other analyst actions:
CIBC World Markets has upgraded Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. to "sector outperformer" from "sector performer".
BMO Capital Markets has downgraded Black Diamond Group to "market perform" from "outperform".
TD Securities has upgraded Cequence Energy to "buy" from "hold".
Cayden Resources Inc. was raised to "Buy" from "Speculative Buy" at Beacon Secs by equity analyst Michael Curran. The 12 month target price is $4.35 per share.
NOW Inc/DE was rated new "Hold" at KeyBanc by equity analyst Jeffrey Hammond.
Essex Property Trust Inc was raised to "Outperform" from "Sector Perform" at RBC Capital by equity analyst Michael Salinsky. The 12 month target price is $214.00 per share.
FuelCell Energy Inc was raised to "Outperform" from "Market Perform" at Cowen by equity analyst Jeffrey Osborne. The 12 month target price is $3.00 per share.
FireEye Inc was rated new "Overweight" at Piper Jaffray by equity analyst Andrew Nowinski. The 12 month target price is $36.00 per share. Fortegra Financial Corp was downgraded to "Neutral" from "Outperform" at Macquarie by equity analyst Sean Dargan. The 12 month target price is $10.00 per share.
Hill International Inc was rated new "Buy" at KeyBanc by equity analyst Tahira Afzal. The 12 month target price is $6.50 per share.
Imperva Inc was rated new "Neutral" at Piper Jaffray by equity analyst Andrew Nowinski. The 12 month target price is $29.00 per share.
Intrepid Potash Inc was downgraded to "Sell" from "Hold" at BGC Partners by equity analyst Mark Gulley. The 12 month target price is $13.00 per share.
JDS Uniphase Corp was downgraded to "Neutral" from "Buy" at B. Riley by equity analyst David Kang. The 12 month target price is $11.75 per share.
King Digital Entertainment Plc was downgraded to "Sector Perform" from "Outperform" at RBC Capital by equity analyst Mark Mahaney. The 12 month target price is $15.00 per share.
With files from Bloomberg News