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 Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE:SWN) sank 3% today after Goldman Sachs downgraded the independent energy company from conviction buy to neutral.
So what: Along with the two-notch downgrade, analyst Brian Singer lowered his price target to $51 (from $58), representing about 12% worth of upside to yesterday's close. So while momentum traders might be turned off by Southwestern's pullback in recent weeks, Singer's call could reflect a sense on Wall Street that headwinds from Marcellus pricing will continue to pressure the stock.
Now what: According to Goldman, Southwestern's risk/reward trade-off is pretty balanced at this point. "We anticipate greater near-term volatility in realizations for NE Marcellus producers relative to SW producers which in part drives our decision to diversify into SWPA/Utica with our RRC upgrade," said Singer. "Within NE PA, we prefer [Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG)] over SWN as we believe SWN's Fayetteville Shale assets (55% of resource and 75% of production) are close to fully priced in." When you couple those headwinds with Southwestern's P/E of 20, it's easy to understand Goldman's cautious stance.
Brian Pacampara has no position in any stocks mentioned, and neither does The Motley Fool. 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.