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Will JPMorgan Call the Bottom in DuPont?

E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (NYSE: DD) has been an unloved stock, and shares of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the ag-chemicals giant have been battered. In fact, DuPont has been the worst DJIA stock year to date in 2015.

That may be ready to change, at least that is what JPMorgan thinks. The bulge bracket brokerage firm raised its rating to Overweight from Neutral on Friday. It also assigned a $60.00 price target in its call, versus a prior $58.00 price target.

Before getting into the call, some investors will want to consider what this really means for DuPont shareholders. That $60 target was versus a $53.03 closing price on Thursday.

DuPont has a consensus analyst price target of $62.07, but it also has a 52-week trading range of $52.36 to $76.59. Shares are down about 23% so far in 2015, but they were down only about 12% from this time a year ago.

Even with a share price drop this year already, and even with a drop of almost 20% expected in earnings per share this year to $3.19, DuPont shares are still valued at about 17 times expected earnings against the 2015 consensus estimate. Revenues are expected to be down 18% in 2015, and down 5$ in 2016 — but its earnings per share is expected to rise to $3.56 in 2016 from $3.19 in 2015.

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The driving force here for JPMorgan was that DuPont seems like a stock that is just beaten down too much. Most of its drop has been of late. It is also said to be trading at a value that is half of what high-quality agriculture players have been valued at in buyout offers. Another boost for JPMorgan was DuPont’s $4 billion share buyback.

This is one of those upgrades that may lack a lot of enthusiasm. Many such analyst calls in down and out Dow stocks lack serious conviction. It also implies upside of only 13%, before considering close to a 3% dividend yield.

Investors often have a hard time getting excited about such calls. The problem is that these are the types of analyst calls that precede other calls when there is actually good news again.

By Jon C. Ogg