5 analyst picks of the day: Meta Platforms upgraded at Morgan Stanley | Pro Recap

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5 analyst picks of the day: Meta Platforms upgraded at Morgan Stanley | Pro Recap
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By Davit Kirakosyan

Investng.com -- Here is your daily Pro Recap of the biggest analyst upgrades and buy initiations you may have missed since yesterday.

Meta gets Overweight rating at Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley upgraded Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META ) to Overweight from Equalweight and raised its price target to $250.00 from $190.00, noting it is positive on the company's structural pivot toward increased efficiency and improving revenue, engagement and Reels trends.

Despite the share price rise of about 120% from the November 2022 low (compared to the S&P's 6%), the valuation remains attractive. While it is uncertain how the consumer will perform in the second half of 2023 and 2024, Morgan Stanley is taking a more cautious approach toward future ad growth. If the consumer does weaken, the firm believes that Meta is better positioned than Google, which has not reduced costs as aggressively, and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ), whose retail profitability improvement relies on increasing consumer spending and may be impacted by macro uncertainty that could delay AWS growth improvements.

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Stifel resumes Alphabet at Buy: 'We do not expect a monumental shift in consumer behavior'

Stifel said it is resuming coverage of Google operator Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) with a Buy rating and a $130 price target.

The firm said in a note: "While the early demos for Bing via OpenAI have been quite impressive (and Google's have been disappointing), we do not expect a monumental shift in consumer behavior, or Search ad spend shifts."

Stifel added that it sees "substantial opportunity for YouTube and YouTube TV against the combined Linear and CTV+ landscape."

Shares were ticking down marginally in the premarket.

U.S. Bancorp upgraded to Outperform on 'silly' market reaction to ROAs

Baird upgraded U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB ) to Outperform from Neutral with a price target of $52.00, noting that regional bank risk/reward trade-off remains very attractive.

“After the KBW Bank Index fell 15%+ last week, we believe this is one of the best risk/reward trade-offs in this group that we have seen in our 23-year career,” said the firm. The market is currently pricing in a 40%-50% permanent reduction in ROAs, which the firm believes is “beyond silly”.

The firm stayed positive on US bank stocks and said they are more inexpensive today than they were during the pandemic, and "if you don't buy banks here, we aren't sure when you do."

Shares gained more than 4% yesterday and are currently trading nearly 3% higher premarket.

Fleetcor Technologies upgraded to Outperform following a cooperation agreement with D.E. Shaw

Raymond (NS: RYMD ) James upgraded Fleetcor Technologies (NYSE: FLT ) to Outperform from Market Perform. Shares gained more than 6% yesterday after the company announced it has entered into a cooperation agreement with longtime shareholder D.E. Shaw.

As part of the agreement, Fleetcor has appointed Rahul Gupta to its Board of Directors and agreed to add another mutually agreed-upon director to the Board, form an ad hoc Strategic Review Committee, and undertake a review of its portfolio and business configuration.

The portfolio review will assist the board as it considers strategic alternatives, including the possible separation of one or more of the company's businesses. It intends to complete the portfolio review by the end of 2023.

2 more upgrades

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods upgraded Assurant (NYSE: AIZ ) to Outperform from Market Perform with a price target of $152.00.

Seaport Global Securities upgraded Sonoco Products (NYSE: SON ) to Buy from Neutral with a price target of $65.00.

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