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10 Fresh Analyst Stock Picks Called to Rise 50% or More

Now that the bull market has finally reminded investors that a 10% correction can be seen again, investors are looking for value and opportunity among the rubble. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst upgrades and downgrades each day of the week, or hundreds of such calls each week. The goal is simply to find hidden value stocks and new trading or investing ideas for its readers. Many of these analyst calls cover stocks to buy with ratings of Buy, Outperform, or occasionally a Strong Buy rating.

Traditional “Buy” ratings in Dow or S&P 500 stocks come with far more aggressive calls with upside of 50% or more. When analysts see much higher potential returns, there is generally far more risk than investors would expect from traditional Dow or S&P 500 stocks.

This last week brought up many analyst calls with very aggressive price targets. Some of the calls were opportunistic due to a serious sell-off, but other calls were just aggressive in and of their own right for explosive growth and special situations. We tracked five analyst calls where analysts on Wall Street were calling for upside of roughly 100% to 200%, and then here are 10 analyst calls with upside projections of 50% or more.

Again, it cannot be stressed enough that calls of this nature are very risky. Some of these stocks are highly speculative, have few analysts and institutional investors following them, and some of them are simply bettered and out of favor.

To be sure investors understand the higher risk profile, 24/7 Wall St. has tried to include at least one negative development in the stock or a word of caution. After all, we don’t want you thinking we believe that analysts are omniscient or that the future has been set. At the end of this report we go even deeper into risk disclosures. Here are ten analyst picks from the week of September 21 to September 25 with implied upside of 50% or more.

ADT Corp. (NYSE: ADT) is not normally a company we would expect to see 50% upside in, but the stock has tanked in 2015. ADT was started as Outperform with a $46.00 price target at Credit Suisse on Wednesday. This was against a prior $30.54 close and versus $30.70 at Friday’s close. ADT has a consensus analyst price target of $43.11 and a 52-week range of $29.61 to $42.88. While this call looks aggressive, there are even more aggressive analyst price targets.

Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD) was looking great before the sell-off, but the market has been hard on it. Oppenheimer issued a note on Thursday effectively saying that the market has it wrong and is too focused on the downside in what is considered a very ‘special situations’ stock. Oppenheimer maintained its Outperform rating and kept its $26.00 price target. The take is that the ULA announcement ignored the upside in its model, is solely focuses on the downside, and a lack of communications from the company are to blame. The reality is that Aerojet Rocketdyne is riskier than traditional defense contract outfits.

Antero Midstream Partners LP (NYSE: AM) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse on Tuesday. The firm assigned a $35.00 price target, versus a prior $20.88 close and versus a close of $19.19 on Friday. Antero has a distribution yield equivalent of almost 4%, and it has a 52-week range of $18.49 to $30.77. It also has a consensus analyst price target of closer to $32.00.

Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: CCOI) was maintained as Buy at Canaccord Genuity on Wednesday. The firm kept its $42 price target versus a prior $26.93 close. The firm’s call was after Cogent’s chief revenue officer left the company. We would point out that Cogent has a consensus analyst price target closer to $35.00 and it has a 52-week range of $25.84 to $40.48. Another call was seen being less aggressive as Cogent was started as Outperform with a $33 price target at RBC Capital Markets. Cogent has been selling high-speed internet fiber access to businesses for years and still have very high valuations.

Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) was reiterated as Outperform along with a $62.00 price target at Credit Suisse. This call from Thursday was more than 50% higher than the $38.15 price ahead of the call. The firm said that the downturn defense will allow Pits performance culture to shine in recovery, Devon was said to be delivering substantially improved well performance across its plays, with cost cuts and spending monitoring helping at the next upturn. Just keep in mind that Devon’s 52-week range of $36.63 to $70.48 means that almost every investor who bought in the last year wishes they would have waited.

Intrawest Resort Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SNOW) is the mountain resort and lodging company operating in Steamboat, Winter Park in Colorado and also with operations in Vermont, West Virginia, Quebec and Ontario. Credit Suisse issued a call on Thursday calling for 50% or more upside after it reiterated its Outperform rating and $15.00 price target. This was versus a $8.96 prior close and $8.80 close on Friday. The call was said to be after encouraging investor meetings in Toronto, with solid investor interest being seen in the company. Intrawest has a market cap of about $400 million and a 52-week range of $8.25 to $12.75.

Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE: NBR) was maintained as Buy at Argus last Monday, but the price target was cut to $15 from $20. This is still substantially higher than its prior $9.82 closing price and versus Friday’s closing price of $10.00. Argus is still positive, but the lower price target is based upon persistently low commodity prices negatively impacting customer activity levels and rig pricing. Nabors has a 52-week range of $8.94 to $23.59 and a market cap of $3.3 billion, and its dividend yield is about 2.5%.

Noble Corporation plc (NYSE: NE) was maintained as Buy at Argus this last week, but the firm lowered its price target to $20.00 from $23.00 in the call. This was against a $11.25 prior close, and was against a closing price of $10.93 on Friday. Noble is an offshore drilling contractor, so you know why it at the bottom of its 52-week trading range of $10.52 to $23.66. Noble has a consensus analyst price target of almost $15.00. What investors need to consider here is that the $1.50 annualized dividend just does not seem realistic for much longer with current energy prices even if it is expected to keep making money.

NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NRG) was maintained as Outperform at Credit Suisse in a late-week call, along with a $30 price target. This was versus a prior $17.98 closing price, but NRG sold off hard this week and closed at $15.07 on Friday. The firm said that it was surprised by the recent sell-off and noted that NRG will spend 17% of its market cap to return capital to shareholders via dividends and buybacks in the next 15 months. With the way the selling has continued, we cannot help but ask maybe if something worse than expected is going on here.

Qunar Cayman Islands Limited (NASDAQ: QUNR) received an interesting call on Thursday from the team at BofA Merrill Lynch. Qunar was maintained as Neutral, so how good could it be? Well, the firm’s price objective was maintained as $45 versus a prior closing price of $30.00 and Qunar went out on Friday at $28.22. That seems like overly optimistic upside for a measly “Neutral” rating. The driving force here is that its potential macro downside and competition dominate despite balancing between growth and margins. With a 52-week range of $23.56 to $54.23 and being an online travel commerce platform in China, readers better do more homework on this one.

24/7 Wall St. wanted to delve deeper into the risks and disclosures that investors need to strongly consider in very aggressive analyst calls — and in speculative stocks for that matter. When a Dow or S&P 500 stocks gets a Buy rating it is generally for upside projections for 8% to 15%. Sometimes it will be 20%, or 30% on a more aggressive call after a sell-off. So when you get a call for 50% to 100% upside, guess what this does to your risk taking. The reality is that there is often a big chance for disappointments, and the potential losses can be far greater than an investor might expect from most Dow and S&P 500 stocks.

Investors also need to consider that Wall Street analysts are often given more credit or attention than they deserve. Many of these analyst calls often fail to live up to individual analyst’s expectations. In most cases, analysts have no better information that institutional investors and sophisticated investors.

Another serious consideration is that many speculative analyst calls feel like they are all-or-none calls, effectively a proverbial Hail Mary pass. Some stocks with small market caps and low share prices can flounder for a decade or more. And it can get even worse still, and many highly speculative stocks end up getting delisted or just implode.

Many younger emerging companies do eventually grow up into multi-billion-dollar giants, but the reality is that most companies have limited total addressable markets. And many companies that have large addressable markets just fail to do well, or they have an internal or external event that can wreck the future. Also, some of the companies are just niche companies that simply may never make it above a certain size.

A last warning about highly speculative analyst calls is that these are generally only suitable for the most aggressive investors and traders. Conservative investors, retirees and the so-called widow-and-orphan investors need to stick to larger well-known stocks, with dividends and years of operating history in businesses that are deemed very stable.

By Jon C. Ogg