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Today's top analyst calls - Dec 7: BABA SBUX DKNG PDYPY GMVHF MRNA JACK TACO BMBL

MORE CONSTRUCTIVE ON STARBUCKS: MKM Partners analyst Brett Levy upgraded Starbucks ($SBUX) to Buy from Neutral with a price target of $130, up from $114. The analyst acknowledged that the current backdrop, the company's investments and a "fundamental drag" may weigh on its near-term performance. However, he is taking a "more constructive view" of Starbucks' long-term prospects. The decision to invest $1B across its system has created a short-term drag on fundamentals, but by solidifying the company's operating model and putting its "partners" and customers first, it could further enhance the longer-term sales and profit streams over time, the analyst contended.

JPMORGAN MORE CONFIDENT IN BUMBLE AFTER MEETINGS: JPMorgan analyst Cory Carpenter upgraded Bumble ($BMBL) to Overweight from Neutral with a $55 price target following meetings with management. The analyst left the meetings with greater confidence in Bumble's app trajectory and longer term positioning within "the dating/relationship ecosystem." The recent investor focus on the company's slowing app payer growth misses what is otherwise very strong underlying app momentum, Carpenter tells investors in a research note. He believes Bumble's 2022 net subscriber additions will be greater than 2021.

BUY ALIBABA: Macquarie analyst Ellie Jiang resumed coverage of Alibaba ($BABA) with an Outperform rating and $162 price target. The analyst believes Alibaba is building a cohesive ecosystem and sees the company benefiting from continued growth in China's e-commerce penetration, a natural extension of customer life-time value and an efficient cost structure. Jiang expects increasing domestic retail penetration, as well as international expansion and other initiatives to drive a sustained compound annual growth rate of 15% in revenue over FY3/22-24 and thinks the stock's valuation has troughed at two standard deviations below its historical average.

ON THE SIDELINES: CBRE analyst John DeCree initiated coverage of DraftKings ($DKNG) with a Hold rating and $36 price target. Union Gaming was acquired by CBRE in June. The recent selloff in global gaming equities "created a number of great opportunities to get involved in the sector at some of the most attractive levels in months," DeCree told investors in a research note. In spite of the omicron variant, the analyst remains bullish on the domestic casino recovery, particularly in Las Vegas. He also remains optimistic on the global digital gaming industry, with a "strong emphasis" on the U.S. sports betting and internet gaming opportunity. DeCree added that the favorable backdrop for the U.S. gaming industry gives him even more reason to "remain enthusiastic" for casino real estate and the gaming real estate investment trusts. The analyst, however, remains "guarded" on the outlook in Macau, citing the uncertainty regarding concessions, junkets, and reopening.

DeCree also initiated coverage of Flutter Entertainment ($PDYPY) and Entain ($GMVHF) with Buy ratings and price targets of 16,000 GBp and 2,600 GBp respectively.

ON THE SIDELINES GIVEN VALUATION: Cowen analyst Tyler Van Buren initiated coverage of Moderna ($MRNA) with a Market Perform rating and a price target of $250. The analyst noted that demand for the COVID booster shot should be robust for the foreseeable future and the company is well positioned to address emerging variants of concern, with the tail of the vaccine franchise likely to be "longer and fatter than many assume." However, his discount cash flow analysis suggests valuation that is similar to current levels.

TACO ACQUISITION: Deutsche Bank analyst Brian Mullan upgraded Jack in the Box ($JACK) to Buy from Hold with a price target of $108, down from $122, following the company's announcement that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Del Taco ($TACO). The analyst believes this deal makes sense as both a financial and strategic decision. Additionally, Mullan believes Jack in the Box's risk/reward has improved post earnings.

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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