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

Equity analysts on the Street applauded Thomson Reuters Corp.'s (TRI-N, TRI-T) better-than-anticipated third-quarter financial results on Wednesday, prompting several to raise their target prices for its shares.

The Toronto-based news and information provider reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose by 42 per cent to US$491-million. Adjusted earnings per share of 39 US cents topped the 38-US-cent projection on the Street.

RBC Dominion Securities analyst Drew McReynolds said the management’s outlook and commentary was also “not lacking in positivity or visibility.”

“Following the initial revision to 2020 guidance in Q1/20 due to COVID-19, management has twice upwardly revised the outlook,” he said in a research note. “In addition to these upward revisions, management indicated ‘increased confidence’ on the outlook for Q4/20 and 2021. Specifically: (i) net sales across the company is tracking ahead of the original pre-COVID-19 plan; (ii) net sales for Legal Professionals in Q3/20 were the strongest since 2016 boosted by government; (iii) the recovery in the organic revenue growth trajectory post-COVID-19 for the Big 3 segments is directionally tracking to the outlook provided at the company’s 2018 investor day (i.e., up 4-5 per cent for Legal Professionals and 6-8 per cent for Tax & Accounting Professionals and Corporates); (iv) visibility has significantly improved on recurring revenues (89 per cent of revenues for the Big 3 segments in Q3/20); and (v) 85 per cent of pricing actions for 2020 have been instituted with price increases consistent with 2019.”

Mr. McReynolds said he also expects Thomson Reuters to be “fully playing offence to capitalize on new growth opportunities and to accelerate the transition to an operating company structure.”

Calling it a “low-risk, double-digit total return compounder,” he maintained his “outperform” rating for its shares and increased his target to US$88 from US$85. The average target on the Street is $84.69, according to Refinitiv data

“We believe Thomson Reuters over the next five years can sustain an NAV CAGR [net asset value compound annual growth rate] of 8–9 per cent, a notable increase over an estimated normalized NAV CAGR of 5–6 per cent through the 2000s and 2010s,” he said. “We see potential for further multiple expansion as Thomson Reuters continues an evolution to software provider. Importantly, we believe all of the KPIs underpinning NAV growth and multiple expansion are sitting at structural low points when looking out over the next decade.”

Others raising their targets included:

* Canaccord Genuity analyst Aravinda Galappatthige to US$79 from US$71 with a “hold” rating.

“We believe that TRI’s demonstrated strength in financial performance through the COVID-19 crisis, as reflected yet again in [Tuesday’s] Q3 results, as well as its overall 2020 outlook, further corroborates its low investment risk profile,” he said. “With the added benefit of a well-executed cost containment program, where the $100-million target has already been exceeded by 30 per cent, TRI appears very well positioned to emerge from the current crisis quite unscathed, particularly in relation to most other sectors and even some of its peers. In the present backdrop where most institutional investors still maintain a risk-off mentality, we believe this plays quite well. We also note that due to the robust performance of the big 3 divisions and cost reductions, TRI is well placed to deliver strong (even high single-digit) EBITDA growth in F2021.”

* BMO’s Tim Casey to $116 from $106 with an “outperform” rating

“Thomson Reuters continues to lean into its core operating units. Q3 results reflect solid execution, which we expect will continue in 2021, complemented by new product innovation,” he said. “The company will pull forward some capex and opex into Q4, but we expect cost efficiencies will improve operating margins and capital returns next year and beyond.”

* CIBC World Markets analyst Robert Bek to US$86 from US$77 with a “neutral” rating.

“The company remains a battleship, and continues to capitalize on growth opportunities enabled by digitization, while benefiting from the recurring nature of its business model. We continue with our Neutral rating, given the narrowing of the valuation gap against Information Services peers (and markto-market we assign on proposed LSEG stake) is fair,” said Mr. Bek.

* Scotia Capital’s Paul Steep to US$84 from US$75 with a “sector perform” rating.

* National Bank Financial’s Adam Shine to $111 (Canadian) from $108 with a “sector perform” rating.

* JP Morgan’s Andrew Steinerman to US$83 from US$71 with a “neutral” rating.

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A day after its shares fell over 3 per cent with the release of its third-quarter results, a group of equity analysts lowered their target prices for shares of Gibson Energy Inc. (GEI-T).

Canaacord Genuity’s John Bereznicki thinks the company’s commentary on the fourth quarter for its Marketing segment is too blame for Tuesday’s decline.

“Gibson believes a seasonal slowdown in demand for crude based products and a flattening oil price forward yield curve will negatively impact its Marketing segment in Q4/20,” he said. "As such management expects Marketing segment profit to approximate breakeven in the fourth quarter, with only a modest impact from unrealized hedge gains or losses.

“For 2021 Gibson has reiterated its long-term Marketing segment profit expectation of $80- to $120-million, although management believes it is too early to provide more definitive guidance. Given Gibson’s Q4/20 Marketing outlook, we are moving to the low end of this long-term range (from the mid-point) in 2021.”

After cutting his full-year 2020 and 2021 sales and earnings projections, Mr. Bereznicki lowered his target by a loonie to $26, keeping a “buy” rating. The average is currently $25.05..

“We nonetheless view Gibson’s preliminary 2021 capital plan (of $200 million-plus) as positive amidst a challenging midstream organic growth environment and a driver of continued Infrastructure growth,” he said. “We are lowering our 2021 EBITDA outlook to reflect a reduced Marketing contribution, but nonetheless believe the quality of Gibson’s cash flow should improve as relative Infrastructure segment profit skews upward (to 85 per cent on a consolidated basis). We continue to believe Gibson enjoys a strong balance sheet, attractive cash flow profile and a strategic land position at Hardisty.”

Others lowered their targets included:

* CIBC’s Robert Catellier lowered to $24 from $25 with a “neutral” rating.

* Scotia Capital’s Robert Hope to $24 from $26 with a “sector outperform” rating.

* TD Securities' Linda Ezergailis to $22 from $24 with a “hold” rating.

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Desjardins Securities analyst Chris Li expects Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.'s (CTC.A-T) third-quarter financial results to “further highlight the resiliency” of its flagship stores' business model.

“While this is partly priced in following the strong share price recovery, we believe further improvement in earnings visibility should support more upside,” he said.

Ahead of the release of its quarterly report on Thursday before the bell, Mr. Li increased his earnings per share forecast to $3.85 from $3.61, pointing to “continued” sales momentum at its Canadian Tire stores “supported by strong stay-at-home and seasonal demand.” The consensus forecast on the Street is currently $3.70.

“We believe the wide range in Street estimates partly reflects differences in retail gross margin and operating expense assumptions,” he said. “COVID-19 made forecasting more challenging.”

With a “buy” rating, Mr. Li increased his target for Canadian Tire shares to $155 from $135. The average is $147.90.

“We believe the resiliency of the CTR banner and solid balance sheet position CTC well to benefit from improvement in market conditions next year,” he said.

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Pointing to continued pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantine restrictions, ATB Capital Markets analyst Chris Murray now expects Air Canada (AC-T) to sustain weaker results in both the third and fourth quarters than previously anticipated.

“While we are expecting a recovery in 2021, traffic levels, which are expected to improve from Q2/20 levels, are still likely to be weak and skewed to mainly domestic travel,” he added.

In a research report previewing the Nov. 9 release of its third-quarter earnings report, Mr. Murray said he’s moving his “expectations for a recovery to the right, expecting further losses through Q3/21 before positive bottom line performance in Q4/21.” He’s now projecting traffic to fall 70.4 per cent in 2020 before a “steady” recovery begins and lasts through 2024.

For the third quarter, he’s projecting EBITDA and earnings per share losses of $348-million and $2.35, respectively, down from his previous estimates as lower traffic has led to a revenue decline.

“We are rolling our valuation period forward to the four quarters ending with Q4/22, reflecting what we believe should be the first normalized period of operations for the Company,” said Mr. Murray. “We also believe using multiples more reflective of trough earnings are appropriate with peers trading at 9.9 times EV/EBITDA on 2021 consensus estimates and with Air Canada currently trading at a 5.1 times multiple.”

Maintaining an “outperform” rating for Air Canada shares, he lowered his target to $26 from $31. The average is $21.

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Emphasizing the potential for further growth at its 100-per-cent owned flagship project following a “robust” preliminary economic assessment, Fundamental Research analyst Sid Rajeev initiated coverage of Gold Springs Resource Corp. (GRC-T) with a “buy” rating.

The Vancouver-based company is focused on its Gold Springs project on the Nevada-Utah border.

“We believe there is significant room for resource expansion as the property has multiple untested targets with the same high-resistivity signature as the known resources,” said Mr. Rajeev. “GRC is completing fieldwork to define drill targets for a 10,000-metre resource expansion drill program.”

Currently the lone analyst on the Street covering the stock, Mr. Rajeev set a fair value for its shares of 30 cents, calling the projection “conservative as it does not account for any upside from exploration.”

“We expect a number of catalysts for GRC’s shares from the upcoming 10,000-metre drill program,” he said.

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Despite a third-quarter earnings beat, Citi analyst P.J. Juvekar trimmed his 2020 EBITDA projection for Nutrien Ltd. (NTR-N, NTR-T), expecting a “slightly” weaker-than-anticipated fourth-quarter.

Late Monday, the Saskatoon-based company reported earnings per share of 23 US cents, easily exceeding Mr. Juvekar’s 11-US-cent estimate.

“NTR remains positive on its fertilizer and Ag market outlook. Strong farmer economics globally plus low fertilizer prices means fertilizer affordability should remain high,” he said. “NAM fall applications should drain potash inventories into the year end, setting up strong 2021 demand. Potash fundamentals in countries like Brazil, China, and India also continue to improve. NTR believes NAM urea prices will need to increase significantly in early 2021 to reach import parity. On the other hand, NTR sees the phosphate market as structurally oversupplied, which could limit long-term price recovery. The impairment on NTR’s phosphate assets is because upon review, the book values were no longer supported by their long-term outlook for phosphate prices and margins. NTR slightly narrowed its FY guidance ranges due to increased visibility: $1.60-1.85 EPS and $3.5-3.7-billion EBITDA”

After lowering his 2021 and 2022 EBITDA forecast by 1 per cent, he trimmed his target Nutrien shares to US$47 from US$48, keeping a “buy” rating. The average is US$48.80.

“Our Buy rating on the shares reflects: 1) segment diversification by fertilizer and retail channel; 2) emphasis on shareholder return through dividends and share repurchases; and 3) NTR is trading at a slight discount to [CF Industries Holdings Inc.] a pure play nitrogen company,” he said. “We think NTR deserves a premium to CF especially in a period of declining fertilizer prices and due to its steady Retail business.”

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After jumping to a record high on Tuesday on better-than-anticipated quarterly results and a bright outlook for the key holiday season, several equity analyst raised their targets for shares of Cargojet Inc. (CJT-T).

They include:

* Acumen Capital’s Nick Corcoran hiked his target to $320 from $250 with a “buy” rating.

“CJT reported another solid quarter with the domestic network operating at or near record levels,” he said. “While charter flying has slowed down, ACMI is expected to remain strong. A vaccine for COVID-19 remains a significant catalyst for CJT as it could drive a second phase of high demand for freighters as perishable vaccine (and vaccine-related products) need to be distributed.”

* Scotia Capital analyst Konark Gupta to $230 from $225 with a “sector perform” rating. The average is $252.23.

* CIBC’s Kevin Chiang to $265 from $250 with an “outperformer” rating.

“CJT posted strong Q3 earnings not only proving it has benefitted from the change in consumer buying habits during this pandemic, but also that these tailwinds have created a step function improvement in CJT’s earnings profile," said Mr. Chiang. "The fundamentally higher earnings and the diversification of its growth levers reaffirm our positive view on the name.”

* RBC’s Walter Spracklin to $310 from $300 with an “outperform” rating.

* ATB Capital’s Chris Murray moved his target to $300 from $220 with an “outperform” rating.

* BMO’s Fadi Chamoun to $265 from $245 with an “outperform” rating.

“CJT’s Q3/20 results were well above expectations with strong demand across all segments, including the more durable overnight network and ACMI,” said Mr. Chamoun. “Revenue conversion to income and free cash flow was also better than expected, and management’s focus on deleveraging (beyond disciplined investment in growth) is positive for valuation, in our view.”

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Ahead of the Nov. 9 release of its third-quarter financial results, CIBC World Markets analyst Matt Bank raised his earnings expectation for Sleep Country Canada Holdings Inc. (ZZZ-T), seeing “improving trends.”

“The consumer spending backdrop, particularly on the home, has proved healthier than our previous conservative assumptions had baked in,” he said. While we expect a solid Q3, and the stock has risen slightly above our price target, we remain cautious about 2021 and longer-term growth prospects."

Mr. Bank is now projecting earnings per share of 61 cents, rising from 50 cents previously and up 2 per cent year-over-year.

“While Q2 was better than expected, sales were still down significantly due to store closures, and Q3 gives a better sense of the run-rate of the business, and its resilience during COVID-19,” the analyst said. “Our expectations are above where they were when Sleep Country last reported in August, and well above the worstcase scenarios envisioned in the spring. With ZZZ shares above prepandemic levels, it appears that the market has already priced in much of this better expected performance, and for the stock to continue to succeed, we expect Sleep Country will need to credibly display sustainable growth potential beyond a near-term recovery. The conference call will focus on how stores have recovered, the outlook for new stores, and e-commerce growth rates.”

He maintained a “neutral” rating and $21 target. The average is $24.43.

Elsewhere, BMO Nesbitt Burns' Stephen MacLeod increased his target by a loonie to $26 with an “outperform” rating.

“We are increasing our Q3/20 estimates for Sleep Country Canada, reflecting strong sequential recoveries in several underlying demand drivers, including consumer confidence, home resale activity, and housing prices,” he said. “We expect Sleep Country’s strong digitial presence to continue to shine in Q3.”

“We believe Sleep Country is well positioned with its strong liquidity and omnichannel positioning to weather the uncertain backdrop and capture incremental home improvement spend. We see attractive risk-reward (7.2x 2021E EV/EBITDA).”

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In other analyst actions:

* RBC Dominion Securities analyst Pammi Bir raised its target for CT REIT (CRT.UN-T) to $15.50 from $15 with an “outperform” rating, while TD Securities' Sam Damiani moved his target to $16 from $15.50 with a “buy” rating. The average is $15.57.

* BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Jackie Przybylowski raised his target for Hudbay Minerals Inc. (HBM-T,) to a Street-high $10 from $9.50 with an “outperform” rating, while TD Securities' Greg Barnes moved his target to $8.50 from $7.50 with a “buy” rating. The average is $7.25.

“Hudbay not only reported a good Q3 result, but it continues to progress towards near/medium-term deliverables, which support our investment thesis,” said Ms. Przybylowski, reaffirming the company as her “Top Pick.”

“The operations perform well and Hudbay is progressing the New Britannia expansion and adding value to Peru.”

* TD Securities analyst Mario Mendonca increased his target for ECN Capital Corp. (ECN-T, “buy”) to $6.50 from $6. The average is $6.97.

* Scotia’s Michael Doumet raised his target for Wajax Corp. (WJX-T, “sector perform”) to $17 from $15, while Raymond James' Bryan Fast hiked his target to $14.50 from $13 with an “market perform” rating and BMO’s Devin Dodge to $14 from $12 with a “market perform” rating. The average is $15.13.

“Wajax’s 3Q20 results were marked by many moving parts,” said Mr. Fast. “Most notably, following a familiar pattern over the years, the company recorded a pre-tax restructuring cost of $7.7 mln. This time, the recurring non-recurring charge was related to the severance costs of an 8-per-cent workforce reduction in the wake of Covid-19. Concurrently --and somewhat perversely -- Wajax also received $5.4-million of CEWS funding to subsidize wages during the pandemic. The former item was removed from the reported adjusted EPS of $0.50; the latter was not, presenting what we feel was an asymmetrical ‘beat.’ Thus, while the stock reacted positively to the print (up 6 per cent vs. the TSX up 2 per cent), we are less impressed by the core performance. This, combined with the state of the company’s balance sheet and the uncertain outlook that prevails, leads us to maintain our Market Perform rating.”.

* Scotia’s George Doumet raised his target for Spin Master Corp. (TOY-T, “sector perform”) to $29.50 from $28. The average is $30.55.

* National Bank Financial analyst Vishal Shreehar increased his target for Metro Inc. (MRU-T) shares to $65 from $63, keeping a “sector perform” rating. The average is $62.90.

* National Bank Financial analyst Jaeme Gloyn increased his target for goeasy ltd. (GSY-T, “outperform”) to $93 from $77. The average is $76.29.

* Mr. Gloyn also hiked his target for Intact Financial Corp. (IFC-T) to $170 from $168 with an “outperform” rating, while Raymond James' Stephen Boland increased his target to $160 from $155 with an “outperform” rating. The average is $159.54.

“Earning results were higher than our estimates and consensus driven by an 87.3-per-cent combined ratio,” said Mr. Boland. “Each of the business segments delivered very strong underwriting profits. Personal Auto materially outperformed our expectations even with premium relief measures in place. We had expected premium growth to be pressured with the relief measures in place but new business wins, higher retention and hard markets offset the measures. It is difficult to find weakness in the underwriting results considering the overall economic conditions. Low cat losses in the quarter also contributed to the high underwriting profits which may not be sustainable. 4Q20 could be just as strong (x-cat losses).”

* Scotia’s Robert Hope trimmed his target for Keyera Corp. (KEY-T, “sector outperform”) to $24 from $25, falling short of the $27.16 average.

* TD Securities' Trevor Turnbull raised his target for Torex Gold Resources Inc. (TXG-T, “sector outperform”) to $37 from $36. The average is $34.15.

* Raymond James analyst Stephen Boland raised his target for Equitable Group Inc. (EQB-T, “market perform”) to $104 from $89.75. The average is $104.29.

“Market conditions are improving gradually though management remains cautious on the outlook for housing. 4Q20 growth is expected to be modest," he said. "Overall, on the conference call, management seemed cautiously optimistic regarding the remainder of the year but the focus seems to be turning to 2021. We look to potential higher earnings growth returns which could push the market valuation to a premium to book value. Maintain Market Perform rating. As a reminder we are heading into the slower housing selling season.”

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