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 Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU ) gained about 2% this morning after RBC Capital upgraded the DRAM products specialist from sector perform to outperform.
So what: Along with the upgrade, analyst Doug Freedman raised his price target to $34 (from $27), representing about 31% worth of upside to Friday's close. So while contrarian traders might be turned off by Micron's price strength over the past year, Freedman's call could reflect a sense on Wall Street that industry tailwinds give the company plenty of room to run.
Now what: According to RBC, Micron's risk/reward trade-off is rather attractive at this point. "While Micron could be viewed as a restructuring story in the near term given its many moving parts, we believe that the company's efforts to improve NAND quality should become more transparent through the next 6-12 months," said Freedman. He continued:
On the DRAM side, higher margin levels are likely sustainable given mix-shift movements, upcoming 20nm cost-downs, fundamental industry shifts in participants, and tight industry supply (low channel inventories). ... Our view remains that the memory industry is benefiting from the law of diminishing cost savings, which is expected to result in a multi-year cycle of higher revenues and operating margins in both DRAM and NAND.
When you couple Micron's red-hot stock price -- now up about 150% over the past year -- with its still-hefty debt load, however, I'd hold out for a much wider margin of safety before buying into that bull case.
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