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Today's top analyst calls - July 16: AA HNST FGEN MSFT SBUX

ALCOA UPGRADED AT CITI: Citi analyst Alexander Hacking upgraded Alcoa ($AA) to Buy from Neutral with a $52 price target. The company has "sensibly" used the past few years to strengthen its operating footprint and the balance sheet and management was "explicit" on the company's earnings call that capital return is part of their framework, Hacking tells investors in a post-earnings research note. The analyst, whose note is partially titled "$1B Annualized FCF Speaks Louder Than Words," would advocate for a balanced approach for cash flow use that includes "prudent reinvestment into an even greener footprint," he added.

Loop Capital analyst Laura Champine upgraded Honest Company ($HNST) to Buy from Hold with an unchanged price target of $17. The analyst says that after the recent pullback in shares, potential destocking pressures in Q2 are "more than adequately priced in at the current valuation." Honest management has recently maintained that retail demand is strong, and any destocking-related weakness in Q2 should be made up in the second half of 2021, Champine tells investors in a research note. The analyst thinks constrained supply chain and logistics providers are struggling with surging demand, driving "thin inventories throughout retail."

FIBROGEN DOWNGRADED AT STIFEL, BOFA: Stifel analyst Annabel Samimy downgraded FibroGen ($FGEN) to Hold from Buy with a price target of $29, down from $55, citing the negative outcome for the roxadustat FDA panel. The panel overwhelmingly voted against approval of roxadustat, Samimy tells investors in a research note. While FDA will not likely contradict the panel, roxadustat "remains a viable drug," says the analyst.

BofA analyst Jason Gerberry also downgraded FibroGen to Neutral from Buy with a $29 price target.

MICROSOFT PRICE TARGET INCREASE: Mizuho analyst Gregg Moskowitz raised the firm's price target on Microsoft ($MSFT) to $310 from $285 and keeps a Buy rating on the shares. The economic recovery continues to take hold, and recent software channel checks "were very healthy overall," Moskowitz tells investors in a research note. The analyst says companies that enable digitization are still leading the way, but notes many legacy and/or on-premise technologies "continue to normalize." In addition, his cybersecurity checks were "notably strong this quarter."

'SUPERIOR SETUP': Oppenheimer analyst Brian Bittner raised the firm's price target on Starbucks ($SBUX) to $140 from $135 and reiterates an Outperform rating on the shares. The analyst's updated analysis "identifies further upside" to Street's financial forecasts through 2022. "Major traction" from self-help strategies and gains in U.S. mobility data suggest the company's sales are positioned to outperform, Bittner tells investors in a research note. His work suggests that management's earnings guidance for 2021 could prove conservative, and in 2022 he anticipates "outsized" earnings growth above 20% - "far better than any global restaurant peer." The analyst says Starbucks has a "superior setup" that keeps him upbeat.

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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