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Today's top analyst calls - Oct 19: TGT WMT VZ ZG OPEN ACI

REVENUE GROWTH SHOULD SLOW: Goldman Sachs analyst Kate McShane removed Target ($TGT) from the firm's Conviction List while keeping a Buy rating on the shares with a price target of $308, up from $281. Target has gained share across all categories over the past 18 months supporting double digit sales growth and "outsized" operating income growth, but the pace of its revenue growth should slow into 2022 to be in-line with historical levels, McShane told investors in a research note. The analyst, however, thinks Target is well positioned to retain its customer and market share gains earned over the past 18 months.

IN A POSITION TO TAKE SHARE: Goldman Sachs analyst Kate McShane added Walmart ($WMT) to the firm's Conviction List and keeps a Buy rating on the shares with a price target of $196, up from $184. After the recent stock underperformance as the company is in a position to take share and "do it more profitably" into 2022, McShane contended. After several years of investment weighing on profitability, Walmart is now in a position to grow EBIT dollars along with continued investments due to the greater scale of its e-commerce business today, improving mix, and growth from higher margin ancillary businesses like advertising, the analyst added.

ON THE SIDELINES: Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft resumed coverage of Verizon Communications ($VZ) with a Hold rating and $55 price target. The analyst believes Verizon remains attractive from a dividend yield perspective, but sees only about 5% upside potential to the stock price over the next year given his projected growth outlook.

ZILLOW OFFERS PURCHASE PAUSE: Wedbush analyst Ygal Arounian downgraded Zillow Group ($ZG) to Neutral from Outperform with a price target of $86, down from $153, after the company confirmed it will temporarily pause its Zillow Offers purchases as it hits "operational capacity." Zillow is seeing a backlog in renovations and operational capacity constraints driven by labor and supply constraints, leading Zillow to pause operations across all its markets simultaneously, which the analyst believes "leaves many unanswered questions in the near-term." By sitting out for whatever period, it is going to cede material market share to its peers, and allow Opendoor ($OPEN) to build greater relative scale, he added.

MORE BALANCED RISK/REWARD: Citi analyst Paul Lejuez downgraded Albertsons ($ACI) to Neutral from Buy with a price target of $32, up from $30. The stock is up 100% over the past 12 months and 50% over the past three months, making the risk/reward "seem more balanced from here," Lejuez told investors in a research note. Expectations "seem to be elevated" following the recent CFO hire and stronger than expected results, but navigating the inflationary environment and need for continued omni-channel investment "present some uncertainty" around Albertsons' ability to sustain EBIT margins of 3.6%, the analyst argued.

Disclosure: I may trade in the ticker symbols mentioned, both long or short. My articles represent my personal opinion and analysis and should not be taken as investment advice. Readers should do their own research before making decisions to buy or sell securities. Trading and investing include risks, including loss of principal.

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