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Inside the Market’s roundup of some of today’s key analyst actions

Though he expects it enjoy a gradual software and services recovery, Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley lowered his rating for BlackBerry Ltd. (BB-N, BB-T) to “sell” from “hold” on Monday, citing concerns about its valuation following recent volatile trading stemming from a targeted short squeeze.

“We believe BlackBerry is on track to achieve its $950-million revenue target for F2021 or its upcoming February year-end,” he said in a research note released in conjunction with his software security industry report today titled The Excalibur of the Modern Enterprise; Expanding Coverage of Security Software.

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“We also anticipate modest sequential growth for Software and Services driven by a steady recovery in QNX sales. Management also anticipates healthy Licensing revenue to come in slightly ahead of prior expectations for Q4, which we believe is ahead of the prior and ongoing expectation of $250-million in Licensing per year. We view the recent licensing settlement with Facebook as consistent with the licensing guidance management provided for Q4/21 versus a big upside driver. For F2022 we are modeling 5.6-per-cent annual growth for Software and Services with the return to growth driven by the new Spark platform helping stabilize trends combined with a steady recovery in QNX and ongoing healthy demand for AtHoc. We believe the new products ... will take time to drive better growth trends and could drive upside for of F2023 Software and Services growth estimate of 7.4 per cent to $996-million.”

Mr. Walkley said the Waterloo, Ont.-based firm has made “positive strides integrating Cylance and creating a compelling cybersecurity platform.” Also believing it will return its software and services revenue to positive growth in 2021 “driven by the improving product portfolio and recovering QNX sales to the automotive market,” he raised his target for its shares to US$10 from US$8. The average on the Street is US$7.86, according to Refinitiv data.

“BlackBerry shares have appreciated 100 per cent as part of a Reddit driven rally,” he said. “While the shares are 50 per cent below the January 27 closing price of $25.10, our analysis leads us to believe the shares are still overvalued.”

“While we believe management has created a cogent long-term strategy and the business is turning the corner towards stronger trends, we await more proof in execution on the new product roadmap, evidence of cross-selling opportunities emerging, growing overall software and services revenue, and the potential for upside to our estimates before becoming more constructive on the shares. Therefore, we downgrade to Sell based on the current valuation despite our belief trends in the model should gradually improve.”

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Following a surge in his share price in response to Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP’s (BIP.UN-T) hostile takeover bid, Industrial Alliance Securities analyst Elias Foscolos downgraded Inter Pipeline Ltd. (IPL-T) to “hold” from “buy” ahead of the release of a formal response from its board to the offer as well as its quarterly earnings on Thursday.

“IPL is essentially for sale. However, investors should keep in mind that IPL’s board previously rejected engaging with Brookfield in September under similar indicative offer terms,” said Mr. Foscolos. “At that time IPL’s board rejected engaging presumably with sound legal and financial advice. Since that time, industry fundamentals have improved. Simply stated, in our view, Brookfield has the financial capability and the ‘currency’ (share price) that trumps many other public companies, but ‘winning’ a hostile bid is very difficult as the current takeover rules give IPL substantial leverage.”

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Mr. Foscolos maintained a $16.50 target for Inter shares. The current average is $16.13.

“Last Monday, we published a deep-dive note on IPL, in which we raised our target price to $16.50 (second highest) and highlighted the potential valuation ($23.00) that could be achieved in 2022/2023 once the Heartland Petrochemical Complex (’HPC’) is in service,” he said. “Our target price, as was Brookfield’s, was based on public information. Therefore, at this time there is no reason to increase our target price. Before reviewing our target price, we are waiting for (a) IPL to release its Q4 results on February 18, which may provide more details on the Company’s operations, particularly the HPC; (b) Brookfield to formally commence its Offer; and c) IPL’s response. We potentially see further upside beyond our current target price but it does depend on many factors.”

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Seven Generations Energy Ltd.’s (VII-T) merger with Arc Resources Ltd. (ARX-T) is likely to produce a “Canadian condensate champion,” according to Desjardins Securities analyst Justin Bouchard.

In a research note released Monday, he moved Seven Generations to “tender” from a previous “buy” recommendation.

“The combined entity is expected to have an investment-grade credit rating — and it will be one of only three investment-grade natural gas companies in North America!,” he noted.

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Seeing the dividend remaining a key priority “with any increases to be tied to corporate profitability (ie realized cost savings and synergies, higher sustained commodity prices and/or increased production levels),” Mr. Bouchard raised his target to $14 from $9. The average is $9.98.

In a separate note on Arc, he raised his target for its shares to $12.50 from $11.50, keeping a “buy” recommendation. The average is $9.87.

“While it is true there are limited overlapping assets, the synergies are expected to be driven by lower corporate costs, increased operating efficiencies, greater capital allocation flexibility, a more balanced production mix between natural gas and liquids, an anticipated investment-grade credit rating and greater economies of scale,” he said. “While some investors have questioned the combination, we believe that for the reasons noted, ARX is now a bigger and better company.”

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Several equity analysts adjusted their target prices for shares of Enbridge Inc. (ENB-T) on Tuesday in response to mixed fourth-quarter earnings and an increase to the projected cost of the construction of the U.S. portion of its Line 3 oil pipeline.

“Although we consider the results mostly inline, the market reacted negatively to the results. Despite the negative market reaction, we are increasing our target price to $52.00 (previously $50.00), primarily on a multiple refresh while retaining our Buy rating,” said Industrial Alliance Securities analyst Elias Foscolos.

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Elsewhere, TD Securities’ Linda Ezergailis raised her target to $54 from $53 with a “buy” rating. The average on the Street is $51.32.

Those trimming their targets included:

* CIBC World Markets’ Robert Catellier to $52 from $53 with an “outperformer” rating.

* National Bank Financial’s Patrick Kenny to $51 from $52 with an “outperform” rating.

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Though he reduced his estimates for Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. (AEM-N, AEM-T) following the release of its fourth-quarter financial results, Citi’s Alexander Hacking sees the Street’s response to slightly higher cost guidance as “an overreaction,” believing the Toronto-based company “remains a best-in-class gold miner.”

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The analyst thinks over 6-per-cent decline on Friday is also an inherent risk given that Agnico’s stock commands the highest multiple amongst the major producers in our coverage.”

However, he added: “A premium is clearly justified by the company’s 20-plus year track record of superior capital allocation, strong operational performance and highly prospective assets all located in good jurisdictions.”

Based on the release, Mr. Hacking lowered his 2021 EBITDA projection by 5 per cent to US$2.2-billion, leading him to reduce his target for Agnico shares to US$72 from US$80 “as the market takes a more cautious view on gold.” The average on the Street is US$90.38.

“We remain Neutral on Agnico seeing the company trading around 4-per-cent FCF yield on Citi’s gold price deck (fair value, in our view),” he said. “Citi’s global commodity team is relatively cautious on gold seeing 2020-21 as cycle-high prices.”

Other analysts making target adjustments include:

* Scotia Capital’s Tanya Jakusconek to US$88 from US$93 with a “sector outperform” rating.

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Ms. Jakusconek said: “The main reasons for the weakness include: 1) higher than expected capex at both Canadian Malartic Underground and its overall guidance, 2) lack of reserve replacement, particularly at Amaruq (short mine life), and 3) perception of several projects moving forward will negatively impact FCF/dividend growth outlook. Incorporating the new guidance, we see steady production around 2.0-2.2Moz from 2021-2026 at AISC in the $950-$1,000/oz range, generating FCF of $800-million ($3.40 per share) per annum (5-per-cent yield) at spot prices; AEM will work to maintain this profile beyond 2026 by bringing new projects on as Amaruq approaches the end of its life. We have adjusted our target price down $5 to $88 but maintain our SO rating as we believe there is exploration upside at Canadian Malartic Underground and Hope Bay as AEM has a strong track record of adding value through the drill bit.”

* JP Morgan’s Tyler Langton to $103 from $114 with a “neutral” rating.

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Touting “supportive” industry fundamentals, its “strong” backlog with upside potential and expecting its profitability to “remain healthy,” Industrial Alliance Securities analyst Naji Baydoun assumed coverage of Aecon Group Inc. (ARE-T) with a “buy” recommendation on Tuesday.

“Overall, we view the current macro-economic context as highly supportive of further infrastructure investments in Canada, driven by (1) an expected economic rebound in 2021-22, supported by government fiscal stimulus measures for infrastructure, (2) low/stable interest rates, which should stimulate investments in large-scale, capital-intensive infrastructure projects (via availability of low cost financing), and (3) an infrastructure investment gap that supports further long-term investments in the sector,” he said.

“Over the years, ARE’s evolving capabilities, strong backlog position (which positioned it to be more selective in project pursuits), and changing portfolio mix have allowed the Company to successfully source and execute on new contracts that have supported both growth and margin expansion. ARE’s current portfolio includes (1) several long duration service contracts (15 per cent of revenues, not in backlog), and (2) a Concessions business (25-30 per cent of Adj. EBITDA) that provides additional stability to the Company and improves its overall risk and financial profile, in our view. Our conservative forecasts point to a relatively stable financial outlook for ARE through 2024; however, our current estimates/valuation do not factor in new large-scale contract wins, which we believe could materially improve the outlook.”

Seeing “significant upside potential to the current share price from continued execution on the current backlog, with additional upside from new contract awards,” Mr. Baydoun set a $22 target for Aecon shares, seeing a discounted valuation versus its peers. The average on the Street is $20.58.

“As the Company continues to execute on its growth strategy, we see the potential for the shares to experience a positive valuation re-rating over time,” he said.

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Seeing fundamentals pointing to a “strong” quarter and 2021 outlook, Canaccord Genuity analyst Yuri Lynk raised his target for shares of North American Construction Group Ltd. (NOA-T) ahead of the release of its results after the bell on Tuesday.

“Our Q4/2020 EBITDA estimate sits at $34-million, which places full year EBITDA at the mid-point of management’s guidance range of $155-million to $170-million,” he said. “The upper end of the range would imply over $41-million of Q4/2020 EBITDA. Recall, management increased the mid-point of 2020 guidance last quarter and has a history of coming in at the top end of the range.

“It appears fundamentals support a good quarter. Suncor is NACG’s largest client and its total oil sands production in Q4/2020 remained relatively steady with Q4/2019. Suncor’s base oil sands operations saw production decline 3 per cent year-over-year to 404 MBoe/d and Fort Hills production declined 29 per cent to 62 MBoe/d, offset by a 33-per-cent increase in Syncrude’s production to 205 MBoe/d. We believe NACG has been moving fleet to support Suncor’s production profile and are weighted toward the growth at Syncrude. Outside the oil sands, we believe NACG was busy mobilizing on the Cote gold mine in Ontario.”

For 2021, he also sees a favourable macro set-up, noting: “Suncor’s 2021 production guidance implies, at the mid-point, 29-per-cent year-over-year growth at Fort Hills, 15-per-cent year-over-year growth in its oil sands operations, and 9-per-cent growth at Syncrude. With the largest and most efficient fleet and a top-tier safety record, we believe NACG will play a major role in helping Suncor achieve its production growth targets. Separately, we expect 2021 to benefit from a full year’s contribution from the operations support contracts at the coal mines in Wyoming and Texas as well as the aforementioned Cote gold mine.”

Expecting management to provide a “positive update on its diverse bid pipeline” and reiterate its “compelling” 2021 targets, Mr. Lynk hiked his target for NACG shares to $20 from $16 with a “buy” rating. The average on the Street is $15.40.

“We believe this stock should be a core holding for small-cap investors given (1) the valuation upside potential associated with the company’s diversification strategy; (2) its strong balance sheet and resilient FCF profile; (3) its top-tier management team with a demonstrated history of accretive capital deployment; and (4) the consistent base of revenue afforded by work on oil sands mines with decades of reserves,” he said.

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Another “steady” quarter from CAE Inc. (CAE-T) reinforces its “resilient attributes,” according to Canaccord Genuity analyst Doug Taylor.

“CAE reported a December quarter that beat headline expectations on the strength of an outstanding quarter for its health unit (short-term in nature) and with robust cash flow,” he said. “The company’s ability to continue delivering profitability despite the turbulence in the commercial aerospace market is a good reminder why CAE shares have recovered a significant amount of their value vs. aerospace peers. The near-term outlook is steady, and the company continues to find new cost savings, supporting our profit outlook”

Mr. Taylor raised his target for the Montreal-based flight simulator manufacturer’s shares to $34 from $32, keeping a “hold” recommendation. The average is $36.33.

“We look for indicators of the next leg higher in utilization rates to support a further move higher in the stock,” he said.

Elsewhere, others raising their targets include:

* Desjardins Securities’ Benoit Poirier to $36 from $35 with a “hold” rating.

“CAE reported mixed 3Q results as solid FCF generation was offset by weak Civil and Defence results. Management reiterated its positive FCF outlook for FY21. Ultimately, while we appreciate management’s efforts to solidify CAE’s competitive positioning across all markets, the level of visibility beyond FY21 remains limited,” he said.

* BMO Nesbitt Burns’ Fadi Chamoun to $36 from $35 with an “outperform” rating.

“The recovery in aviation will continue to be uneven, but we remain convinced that CAE is well-positioned to weather the near-term demand volatility and emerge stronger post-pandemic,” said Mr. Chamoun,

“In the interim, the recurring nature of the company’s Civil segment and diversity of revenues from several end markets that are not being affected in the same way as commercial aviation are allowing the company to continue to generate positive free cash flow, underscoring the resiliency of the business model in one of the worst demand environments in decades.”

* TD Securities’ Tim James bumped his target to $34 from $33 with a “hold” recommendation.

* Scotia Capital’s Konark Guopta to $39 from $38 with a “sector outperform” rating.

“Civil met our expectations, Defence missed, Healthcare beat (likely drove the beat vs. Street), and FCF was significantly better than expected,” said Mr. Gupta. “CAE expects relatively stable Civil results in the current quarter, but expanded the restructuring program for incremental cost savings over time. Our estimates have come down for the near term, but our margin outlook has improved for the longer term. While recovery has stalled due to renewed COVID-19-related restrictions, we believe it is a temporary issue. CAE remains well positioned to leverage the pent-up demand in due course and further strengthen its market position with a strong liquidity ($2.4-billion) and a low leverage ratio (39-per-cent net debt to cap).”

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H&R REIT (HR.UN-T) is “unjustifiably cheap,” according to BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Jenny Ma, noting it’s “trading well below not only the sector average but also its diversified commercial peers.”

“H&R REIT is one of the most attractive investment opportunities in the Canadian REIT sector right now,” she said.

“While the REIT has its shares of challenges, both short term (Jackson Park) and long term (enclosed malls, Calgary office), it also has opportunities in the form of management redirecting its focus back to strategic initiatives, developments, and reducing leverage. On balance, we think the current valuation reflects the risks.”

Ms. Ma raised her target to $16 per unit from $15.50, keeping an “outperform” rating. The average is $15.75.

Elsewhere, National Bank’s Matt Kornack increased his target to $16.75 from $15.50 also with an “outperform” rating.

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Seeing it “at an inflection point,” Paradigm Capital analyst Corey Hammill initiated coverage of Titanium Transportation Group Inc. (TTR-X) with a “buy” rating.

“After building a strong foundation in a huge industry, the company enjoyed organic growth through a rapid U.S. expansion strategy in its asset-light logistics business, and an increasingly large appetite for growth through acquisition in its Canadian asset-based trucking segment,” he said. “What makes TTR unique is its grasp on technology. The company is a leader in the use and integration of the latest technologies which are enhancing efficiencies, unlike many of its peers.”

Mr. Hammill set a target of $6 per share, exceeding the $5.38 average.

“Given the growth trajectory, plan for additional U.S. locations and the possibility of future acquisitions, we think $500 million in revenue is achievable by 2023, which we estimate could support a $7.50 share price,” he said. “Titanium is built to be a consolidator in the Canadian trucking industry, leveraging its intense focus on technology to drive efficiency while simultaneously growing its logistics business, offering a great cash flow stream, with limited upfront investment. The stock trades at a discount to the broad transportation group, and long term we think Titanium will be a logical takeout candidate for a large transportation company.”

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In other analyst actions:

* Raymond James analyst Frederic Bastien raised his target for Colliers International Group Inc. (CIGI-Q, CIGI-T) to US$120 from US$105 with an “outperform” recommendation, while RBC Dominion Securities analyst Matt Logan hiked his target to US$126 from US$96, maintaining an “outperform” rating. The average on the Street is US$116.14.

“Colliers delivered impressive Q4 results which highlighted the resiliency of its business, prudent cost management, market share gains, and quickly recovering sales brokerage volumes. In our view, this is underpinned by Colliers’ evolution into a diversified professional real estate services firm and its enterprising and collaborative culture. Looking ahead, we believe this provides the foundation for accelerating success in 2021 and beyond,” said Mr. Logan.

* TD Securities analyst Graham Ryding raised IGM Financial Inc. (IGM-T) to “buy” from “hold” with a target of $26, up from $25. The average on the Street is $38.75.

* Susquehanna analyst John Coffey hiked his target for Shopify Inc. (SHOP-N, SHOP-T) to US$1,300 from US$950, keeping a “neutral” rating. The current average is US$1,165.95.

* CIBC World Markets analyst Kevin Chiang lowered his target for Air Canada (AC-T) shares to $28 from $31 with an “outperformer” recommendation, while Raymond James’ Savanthi Syth cut his target to $30 from $32 with an “outperform” rating. Conversely, TD Securities’ Tim James raised his target to $27 from $26 with a “buy” rating. The average is $27.

* Mr. Chiang raised his target for TFI International Inc. (TFII-T, TFII-N) to $86 from $82.37 with an “outperform” rating. The average is $101.96.

* TD’s Derek Lessard moved Dorel Industries Inc. (DII.B-T) to “hold” from “tender” with a $14.50 target, down from $16, which is the current consensus.

* TD’s Sean Steuart for West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (WFG-N, WFG-T) to US$91 from US$86 with a “buy” rating, while BMO Nesbitt Burns’ Mark Wilde to $80 (Canadian) from $77.90 with an “outperform” rating. The average is $106.69

* National Bank Financial analyst Tal Woolley raised his targets for SmartCentres REIT (SRU.UN-T, “sector perform”) to $27 from $25 and RioCan REIT (REI.UN-T, “outperform”) to $21 from $20. The averages are $25.96 and $20.06, respectively.

* Scotia’s Paul Steep raised his target for shares of Constellation Software Inc. (CSU-T) to $1,800 from $1,700 with a “sector outperform” rating, while RBC’s Paul Treiber moved his target to $2,000 from $1,900 with an “outperform” rating. Conversely, CIBC’s Stephanie Price lowered her to $1,760 from $1,865 with an “outperformer” rating, and Raymond James’ Steven Li moved his target to $1,700 from $1,550 with a “market perform” rating. The average is $1,798.12.

“CSU released the 2021 President’s Letter offering an update on the firm’s strategy and key changes to its capital deployment policy,” said Mr. Steep. “Our view is that this year’s letter represents another important step in the evolution of CSU in response to the firm’s continued success with its core acquisition and ownership strategy. We intend to revisit a number of the key themes laid out in the letter to consider the potential implications for CSU as the business scales up its capital deployment activities.

“We continue to view the Topicus.com spin-out as a positive for CSU that should help to unlock shareholder value and see the initiatives highlighted in the letter as having the potential to be similarly impactful. Our view is that CSU’s ongoing M&A activity over the past 12 months validates the steps that Constellation took in modifying the organizational structure to support an increased acquisition pace, with the firm having delivered a material increase in both acquisition + total capital deployed over the past several years.”

* CIBC’s John Zamparo raised his Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB-T) target to $18.50 from $17, maintaining a “neutral” rating. The average is $12.66.

“Aurora’s FQ2 featured EBITDA well below consensus due to a lower gross margin, although we expect this to be temporary. Aurora’s growth in medical and especially the higher-margin international channel should create a path to profitability, but the timing is uncertain, partly due to the evolution underway within its consumer segment, as well as tepid industrywide retail sales growth. We believe that in order to attract incremental investors, ACB must accelerate its profitability timeline or better elucidate its plans to gain exposure to U.S. consumers.,” said Mr. Zamparo.

* Scotia Capital analyst Konark Gupta raised his target for Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B-T) to 65 cents from 55 cents, maintaining a “sector perform” rating. The average is 58 cents.

“We believe the current leadership team is capable of turning FCF around with a less complicated business and reduced debt, but a good FCF execution is key, considering there is not much left to divest to offset a prolonged cash burn and pro forma leverage ratio is still stretched. We maintain our Sector Perform rating and would wait to see execution to get more constructive on the story,” said Mr. Gupta.

* Bernberg analyst Richard Hatch lowered his target for Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. (WPM-N, WPM-T) to US$48 from US$50 with a “buy” rating. The average is $60.25.

* JP Morgan analyst Christopher Schott raised his Bausch Health Companies Inc. (BHC-N, BHC-T) target to US$38 from US$32 with a “buy” rating. The current average is US$29.22.

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