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Today's top analyst calls - Nov 29: BABA UPS FDX TJX BURL WFC AFRM

MOVING TO THE SIDELINES: Goldman Sachs analyst Piyush Mubayi removed Alibaba ($BABA) from his firm's Conviction List but kept a Buy rating on the shares with a price target of $215, down from $252. At the time when retail spending slows down and competitive intensity levels up, Alibaba has been increasing its investments on both defensive-offensive strategies to acquire new users, build multiple traffic sources, and in the shorter term raise merchant subsidies to retain merchants, the analyst noted. Mubayi expects revenue growth to decelerate to 13%/16% in the third and fourth quarters. The analyst also expects the aggressive buybacks to continue and the investment portfolio to be revisited, and believes the negatives have been priced. Mubayi is constructive on Alibaba on its extreme valuation.

FEDEX OVER UPS: Deutsche Bank analyst Amit Mehrotra downgraded UPS ($UPS) to Hold from Buy with a price target of $221, down from $253. After the 120% increase in shares since the upgrade to Buy 21 months ago, the stock's risk/reward is better balanced, Mehrotra told investors in a research note. The analyst now prefers FedEx ($FDX) over UPS given the former's "severe" underperformance year-to-date and UPS's upcoming renegotiation with its union. The upcoming contract negotiation between UPS and the Teamsters "has potential to be the most tumultuous since the 15-day UPS work stoppage in 1997," Mehrotra contended.

MORE OPTIMISTIC OFF-PRICE VIEW: Citi analyst Paul Lejuez upgraded both Burlington Stores ($BURL) and TJX ($TJX) to Buy from Neutral, citing a more optimistic view of the off-price sector. Fiscal 2022 is "likely to have many curveballs" for retailers, and the off-price model "thrives on curveballs," Lejuez told investors in a research note. The flexibility of the companies' models is key to success and can thrive in times of maximum disruption, the analyst argued.

BUY WELLS FARGO: Odeon Capital analyst Dick Bove upgraded Wells Fargo ($WFC) to Buy from Hold. After the Financial Stability Board released its new Global Systemically Important Bank, or G-SIB, ratings last week and assigned Wells Fargo its best rating, Bove thinks the likelihood of the regulatory restrictions on the company being lifted is "high" while the stock's current valuation is "reasonable."

STOCK PRICING IN 'VERY RAPID GROWTH': Piper Sandler analyst Kevin Barker initiated coverage of Affirm ($AFRM) with a Neutral rating and $127 price target. The analyst believes the emergence of buy now, pay later lending will continue for the next several years due to a shift in consumer behavior and that Affirm will be a leading player within the industry. However, the stock is currently pricing in "very rapid growth" for the next several years and/or an expansion of non-BNPL lending revenue "not apparent within the current construct of the company," Barker told investors in a research note.

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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