Equity Brief: Ratings Changes for December 7th: UAM, UNP, USB, VRA, WABC, WFC, WMB, WSR

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:

Goldman Sachs downgraded shares of Universal American Corp (UAM) from a neutral rating to a sell rating. Their analysts now have a $8.00 price target on the stock. They wrote, "We downgrade Universal American to Sell from Neutral, reflecting our view of downside risk to earnings from its Medicare Advantage (MA) business given the scheduled funding reductions to MA under the health reform law (as context, MA represents over 70% of UAM earnings, by our estimate). Our Sell rating on UAM is relative to our Neutral coverage view of Managed Care. We see potential downside of 2% for UAM to our 12-month price target of $8 vs. 3% upside for our coverage group. Our updated analysis of reform impact, as well as a revisit of our margin assumptions, has led us to reduce our estimates."

Zacks reiterated its neutral rating on shares of Union Pacific (UNP). They have a $129.00 price target on the stock.

SunTrust initiated coverage on shares of US Bancorp (USB). They issued a neutral rating on the stock and set a $35.00 price target.

Jefferies Group raised their EPS estimates on shares of Vera Bradley, Inc. (VRA). They now have a hold rating and a $22.00 price target on the stock. They wrote, "We are pleased with an all around solid quarter at the company as it relates to topline and margins. Unfortunately, the outlook is a little lighter than we had anticipated, particularly as it relates to the revenue line. As such we expect shares to come under pressure and see risk/reward as balanced. . Although 3Q results were encouraging, 4Q remains more challenged indicating that there is still some choppiness in the business. If we can get a combination of cheaper valuation and stability in the business, we would be more constructive on the name. But for now, we prefer to stay on the sidelines."

Zacks reiterated its underperform rating on shares of WestAmerica Bancorp. (WABC).

SunTrust initiated coverage on shares of Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC). They issued a neutral rating on the stock and set a $35.00 price target.

Zacks reiterated its neutral rating on shares of Williams (WMB). They have a $34.00 price target on the stock. Zacks` analyst wrote, "Williams Companies should be able to generate highly visible cash flow and dividend growth over the next several years through strong operational performances by its business units. With Williams now freed from the capital constraints of a typical E&P firm, the company`s exposure to a bullish NGL processing market and a deep inventory of growth projects is set to unlock significant shareholder value. However, we remain worried about volatile natural gas prices, which are likely to restrict near-term growth prospects at Williams. This compels us to maintain our Neutral recommendation on the company`s shares. We also believe that upside potential will remain limited until this North American pure play energy infrastructure company has fully reaped the benefits of the spin-off."

BMO Capital Markets downgraded shares of Whitestone Reit (WSR) from an outperform rating to a market perform rating. Their analysts now have a $16.00 price target on the stock.

Zacks downgraded shares of The Western Union Company (WU) to an underperform rating.

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