While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a look at particularly stock-shaking analyst upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.
What: Shares of Weatherford International (NYSE:WFT) climbed 1.5% today after Global Hunter Securities upgraded the oil-field services specialist from neutral to buy.
So what: Along with the upgrade, analyst Mark Brown boosted his price target to $28 (from $18), representing about 37% worth of upside to Friday's close. So while contrarian traders might be turned off by Weatherford's sharp rise in recent months, Brown's call could reflect a strengthening sense on Wall Street that the company's growth prospects still aren't fully baked into the valuation.
Now what: According to Global Hunter, Weatherford's risk/reward trade-off remains rather attractive at this point. "WFT delivered a typically messy quarter with below-consensus operating results (adjusted EBITDA of $637MM vs. $648MM consensus) but better-than-expected Q2:14 EPS guidance of $0.21-$0.23 (vs. $0.18 consensus) and a roadmap with a few milestones checked off now (and a few more penciled in) toward the completion of its transformation plan," said Brown. "We believe the company is on track to wrap up its cost reduction initiatives (toward $0.30 per share of annualized savings) by Q2:14 and curtail its exposure to four remaining non-core businesses (testing & production services, US drilling fluids, wellheads, and international land rigs) by Q1:15." Of course, when you couple Weatherford's red-hot stock price with its still-hefty debt load, I'd wait for a wider margin of safety before buying into that bullishness.
Brian Pacampara has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.