November 16, 2012 at 10:09 AM EST
Equity Brief: Ratings Changes for November 16th: ETFC, EV, EXAS, FRAN, FTR, GMCR, GME, GPS, GWW

A number of stocks were upgraded and downgraded by equities research analysts today, as reported by Analyst Ratings Network (http://bit.ly/equitybriefdaily) and Equity Brief:

Compass Point initiated coverage on shares of E TRADE Financial Co. (NASDAQ: ETFC). They issued a neutral rating on the stock and set a $8.50 price target.

Jefferies Group raised its price target on shares of Eaton Vance Corp. (NYSE: EV) from $26.00 to $28.00. They have a hold rating on the stock. They wrote, "EV achieved positive organic growth in the quarter and fiscal year behind improved fixed income and global macro flows as well as institutional wins at Parametric. Retail equity redemptions continue to be dominated by Large Cap Value, albeit at a decelerating rate. With pending tax law changes, EV`s tax managed product suite has the potential for improved demand trends in 2013."

JMP Securities initiated coverage on shares of EXACT Sciences Co. (NASDAQ: EXAS). They issued an outperform rating on the stock and set a $14.00 price target.

Canaccord Genuity initiated coverage on shares of Francesca`s (NASDAQ: FRAN). They issued a buy rating on the stock and set a $30.00 price target. They wrote, "We believe FRAN`s unique business model positions the company to profitably expand its store base. A low-cost, small-footprint store model has translated to EBIT margins in the mid-20% range and one of the specialty retail group`s highest ROIC at around 30%. We expect FRAN`s boutique feel, driven by a broad and trend-right product assortment, should continue to resonate with customers as the company expands square footage at the highest annual rate among all of the companies in our coverage universe. We estimate double-digit SSS growth will persist in FY13, and we are modeling for EPS of $1.29, which is the highest forecast among sell-side analysts."

Macquarie initiated coverage on shares of Francesca`s (NASDAQ: FRAN). They issued an outperform rating on the stock and set a $34.00 price target.

Goldman Sachs downgraded shares of Frontier Communications (NYSE: FTR) from a neutral rating to a sell rating. Their analysts now have a $3.75 price target on the stock.

Zacks upgraded shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR) from an underperform rating to a neutral rating. Zacks now has a $25.00 price target on the stock. Zacks` analyst wrote, "We are upgrading our recommendation on Green Mountain Coffee Roaster to Neutral from Underperform as we are encouraged by the company`s efforts to turnaround its business. The company is geared up to make its Keurig single-cup brewing system popular to face increased competition. Apart from upgrading its Keurig brewing technology, it has launched many affordable Keurig models to attract more customers. The company has also entered into several strategic distribution agreements to rope-in more popular brands like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks into its portion pack systems. We are also encouraged with the stabilizing coffee prices and its strong brand portfolio. Despite sluggish results in the past few quarters, we have faith in the company`s long term prospects. "

Dougherty & Co upgraded shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR) from a neutral rating to a buy rating. Dougherty & Co now has a $35.00 price target on the stock.

Caris & Co. upgraded shares of GameStop Corp (GME) from an average rating to a buy rating. Caris & Co. now has a $31.00 price target on the stock, up previously from $20.00.

Canaccord Genuity upgraded shares of The Gap Inc. (GPS) from a sell rating to a hold rating. Canaccord Genuity now has a $35.00 price target on the stock, up previously from $31.00. They wrote, "We are upgrading shares of GPS from Sell to HOLD as the company has sustained SSS momentum and improved gross margins ahead of our earlier expectations. GPS has generated SSS growth in seven of the first nine months of FY13, which we think is driven largely by an improvement in fashion. The gross margin turned positive yr./yr. in Q2, which we did not originally think would happen until the back half of FY13. Cotton cost pressures have receded, and we think GPS is poised for substantial yr./yr. margin expansion in Q4. Shares have appreciated 80% YTD compared with the S&P 500 index up 8% and the RLX index +21%. We believe GPS shares are fairly valued trading at 14x our FY13 EPS estimate and 7x FY13E EV/EBITDA."

Oppenheimer upgraded shares of W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW) from a perform rating to an outperform rating. Oppenheimer now has a $220.00 price target on the stock, down previously from $225.00. They wrote, "EPS guidance of $10.85-12.00 compared to $12.05 consensus, and includes a mild recession at the low end. We believe guidance overall takes a conservative approach, and on the recent pullback, we are upgrading to Outperform based on (1) long-term US and global market share runway and solid margin drivers, (2) our expectation of defensive financial characteristics, given risky macro (while retaining strong cyclical leverage), and (3) expectation that pace of share gain (which has ebbed) will re-accelerate at some point as management tweaks the various approaches to growing market share."

Longbow Research upgraded shares of W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW) from a neutral rating to a buy rating. Longbow Research now has a $225.00 price target on the stock.

Societe Generale downgraded shares of Halliburton (HAL) from a buy rating to a hold rating.

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