Wall Street Analysts Are Half Wrong About These Stocks

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Earnings season brings on a fury of upgrades and downgrades, and it can be an all-day affair just to get through them all. Today we look at an iconic chocolatier, a watch and accessories maker, a sportswear company, and a natural-gas-based-fertilizer manufacturer. Should you pay attention to Wall Street's call?

Company

Rating

Reaction as of 1 PM EDT

Hershey (NYS: HSY) Upgraded from hold to buyUp 0.4%
Fossil (NAS: FOSL) Upgraded from hold to buyUp almost 0.5%
Under Armour (NYS: UA) Coverage initiated at buyUp over 1.7%
Rentech Nitrogen Partners (NYS: RNF) Downgraded from buy to holdDown over 6%

Source: Wall Street Journal Market Data Center

Hershey
Argus upgraded Hershey from hold to buy.

  • Why? Argus believes the company is realizing substantial sales growth.
  • Justified? No. Hershey is indeed performing strongly and is shaping up to have an industry-leading year. In my opinion, this information is already priced into the stock. Hershey is trading around the industry average of 23 times sales.

Fossil
The Benchmark Company upgraded Fossil from hold to buy.

  • Why? After a pullback in share price, Benchmark believes the company is undervalued.
  • Justified? Yes. Though the fashion accessory company missed on net sales estimates, it is well positioned to grow its Asian operations. U.S. sales growth remained strong, though margins shrank a bit. European debt issues are the biggest scare for the company, but I believe they will ride the storm out OK and remain a strong company.

Under Armour
The Benchmark Company initiated coverage of Under Armour at a buy rating.

  • Why? Benchmark believes Under Armour's strong brand gives it multiple growth opportunities and insulates it from Europe.
  • Justified? Yes. Top line growth for the company should still be in double digits, despite a slow economic recovery. The company used to trade at too rich of a valuation, but recent pullbacks have made it much more appealing.

Rentech Nitrogen Partners
Dahlman Rose downgraded Rentech from buy to hold.

  • Why? After a record increase in new corn crops this year, Dahlman is concerned that the fall fertilizing will be limited as farmers are not sure what to plant in the following season.
  • Justified? No. Rentech's natural-gas-fertilizer technology is efficient and effective. The stock is appealing as a long term hold, as overall agriculture trends should boost associated companies. Rentech is cheap on forward earnings at a little over 11 times projected sales.

Ratings are often based on short-term prospects and not relevant to the long-term investor. However, we can use these to dig up useful facts about a company we may not have seen before. It's important not to let the ratings themselves color your opinion of a company. As Fools often say -- better to do the research yourself and come to your own conclusions. Keep an eye on this series to stay in the know and save the rest of your day for coffee and Facebook.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Michael Lewis owns no shares of the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Fossil and Under Armour. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Fossil and Under Armour, while a separate Motley Fool newsletter service has recommended shorting Fossil. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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