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While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a closer look at particularly stock-shaking upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.
What: Shares of Apache (NYSE: APA ) traded sluggishly today after Credit Suisse downgraded the natural gas and oil company from outperform to neutral.
So what: Along with the downgrade, analyst Arun Jayaram lowered his price target to $102 (from $104), representing about 26% worth of upside to yesterday's close. While contrarians might be attracted to Apache's steady share-price decline in recent months, Jayaram believes a lack of near-term catalysts are likely to weigh on returns in 2014.
Now what: According Credit Suisse, Apache's risk/reward trade-off is pretty balanced at this point. "While APA shares trade at discounted cash flow multiples versus its peers, we believe this discount may persist as APA isn't poised to reach a free cash flow inflection point until '17," noted Jayaram. "Meanwhile, it appears the company's 'self-help' initiatives, which added value, are largely in the rear-view mirror." With the stock off about 15% over just the past three months and trading at a forward P/E of 11, however, that short-term uncertainty might be providing patient energy-savvy Fools with a solid long-term opportunity.
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