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Student Transportation Inc. shares plunge

Shares of Student Transportation Inc. have plunged recently amid allegations by a short seller that the school bus operator faces financial woes and could cut its dividend.

Investor skepticism about the company's growth prospects have prompted BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Jason Granger to cut his target price on the bus company.

Even though Student Transportation has near-term flexibility to continue to grow its business, its cash flow in the longer term could be affected by necessary investments in fleet sustenance capital, Mr. Granger said Tuesday in a report.

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"This could reduce dividend coverage levels and potentially pressure the company's ability to pay the dividend at its current level," he wrote.

"It is worth noting the average age of the company's fleet is reported to be around 5.9 years compared with the average useful life of 12 to 14 years."

Still, the bus operator's services are "more insulated from swings in the economy than many industries," he noted.

"We believe the pipeline of growth significant, and we expect the company to continue to build out its platform."

Last Thursday, Prescience Investment Group of Baton Rouge, La. released a 30-page report alleging that Student Transportation doesn't have the cash flow to support its dividend.

Student Transportation has denied there has been any material or adverse changes in the company's business plans or activity.

Downside: Mr. Granger, who maintains a "market perform" rating, cut his one-year target to $6.50 a share from $7.25.

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Cirrus Logic Inc.

Cirrus, which makes audio and energy chips for smartphones, projects revenue for its September quarter to be in $170-million (U.S.) to $190-million range versus a consensus estimate of $129.7-million, said Canaccord Genuity analyst Bobby Burleson.

Upside: The analyst, who maintains a "buy" rating, raised his one-year target to $43 a share from $35.


NGL Energy Partners LP

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RBC Dominion Securities analyst TJ Schultz raised his target price on the master limited partnership, saying the recent merger with High Sierra Energy LP is supportive of "better visibility" on projected annual distribution increases of 12 to 15 per cent.

Upside: The analyst, who has a "outperform" rating on NGL, raised his one-year target by $4 a share to $29.


USANA Health Sciences Inc.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Scott Van Winkle upgraded the marketer of nutritional and skin-care products to a "buy" rating because of an improved outlook for the U.S. and most of the Asian markets. Its stock valuation looks "too modest" to ignore, he added.

Upside: He also raised his one-year to $60 a share from $46.


First Financial Corp.

The non-bank lender has the opportunity to grab more market share in the mortgage broker channel because of the planned exit of FirstLine Mortgages, said BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Atul Shah.

Upside: He raised his one-year target by $1 (Canadian) a share to $17, but maintains a "market perform" rating.

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