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6 analyst picks: Meta upgraded on expected profit boost from cost cuts | Pro Recap

By Davit Kirakosyan

Investing.com -- Here is your daily Pro Recap of the biggest analyst picks you may have missed since yesterday.

Meta upgraded to Buy on deep cost cuts expected to boost profits

Argus upgraded Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) to Buy from Hold with a price target of $270.00 as it believes the cost cuts, which are among the most significant in the Tech sector, will boost profitability, even in an uncertain macroeconomic environment, while increased competition in the social media space, particularly from TikTok, may be diminishing.

While acknowledging that the cost-cutting measures will not address the company's revenue issues stemming from macroeconomic uncertainties, a slowdown in digital advertising, and the impact of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) ad tracking policy, the firm noted that these moves demonstrate prudence by management, and should improve profitability, and likely be viewed positively by the market.

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The company will report its Q1/23 earnings results on April 26. Wall Street analysts expect an EPS of $2.01 and revenue of $27.65 billion.

As always, InvestingPro subscribers got this news first. Start your free 7-day trial to get on board.

First Citizens Bancshares reached all-time high following UBS double-upgrade

First Citizens BancShares (NASDAQ:FCNCA) surged over 4% on Wednesday to reach an all-time high, after UBS double-upgraded the stock to Buy from Sell and raised its price target to $1,206 from $538. This came after last week’s announcement of the company's acquisition of $72B of assets held by the Silicon Valley Bridge Bank at a discount of $16.5B, which resulted in a share price jump of more than 53% on March 27.

UBS argues that tangible book value per share (TBVPS) accretion should be a positive catalyst for a further re-rate. "We increased our 2024E EPS to $141.36 from $86.01, and our YE2023 tangible book value per share (TBVPS) to ~$1,423 from ~$659 due to the acquisition,” said the firm.

Sealed Air upgraded to buy as volume inflection nears

Sealed Air (NYSE:SEE) shares rose more than 2% today after UBS upgraded the company to Buy from Neutral with a price target of $59.00, noting that volumes should inflect with normalizing customer demand.

Supply chain issues such as those with resin and equipment parts, combined with a post-COVID demand reset and industrial destocking, resulted in negative volume trends over the past year. However, the firm anticipates a positive inflection in volumes beginning in Q3/23. This is expected to boost confidence in the company’s growth algorithm, and UBS models a long-term approximately 13% EPS CAGR, which makes the stock undeserving of the current valuation discount.

3 more upgrades

SLM (NASDAQ:SLM) shares surged more than 5% yesterday after Morgan Stanley upgraded the company to Overweight from Underweight and raised its price target to $15.00 from $14.00 on better-than-feared credit quality.

The firm raised its EPS estimates for 2023/2024 by 11%/5% as SLM's credit performance has improved over the past several months, while the rest of the group's credit quality is declining. According to the firm, this is mainly due to one-time transitory issues that impacted performance in 2022, which have now eased.

Wedbush upgraded Dutch Bros (NYSE:BROS) to Outperform from Neutral with a price target of $37, highlighting a higher probability of upside to $125M 2023 AEBITDA guidance.

Although aggressive near-term consensus expectations do not reflect management's internal expectations and messaging, Wedbush considers the 2023 AEBITDA guidance as conservative and realistic. Additionally, the firm believes that the current valuation is overly pessimistic, given the company’s potential for medium and long-term annual growth.

BofA Securities upgraded Commercial Metals (NYSE:CMC) to Buy from Neutral. The company reported its Q2 earnings results last month, highlighted by an EPS miss and slightly better-than-expected revenues.

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