Great Employment Report, Bad Ramifications: Analysts Upgrade or Downgrade Ford, Kroger, Merck and More

Markets turned lower to start out the week after an especially brutal session on Friday, almost wiping out all of last week’s gains. However, each of the major averages edged out a gain for the first time in weeks. In Monday’s session, markets resumed their trek lower, with the Nasdaq leading the charge, down over 1%. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrials were down 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively.

One catalyst for Friday’s carnage was the September employment report, which was resoundingly strong. According to the report, the U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs, versus an expected 255,000. Also, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%, compared with an expected 3.7%.

What this report signals to investors, economists and really the Federal Reserve is that Fed Chair Jerome Powell likely will continue with the current monetary policy in place by the central bank. Basically, expect interest rates to continue to rise. At the same time, interest rates tend to have an inverse relationship with equities, so as rates continue to rise, it is reasonable to expect markets to continue lower.

Here, 24/7 Wall St. is reviewing additional analyst calls seen on Monday. We have included the latest call on each stock, as well as a recent trading history and the consensus targets among analysts. Note that analyst calls seen earlier in the day were on AMD, Chewy, CrowdStrike, Goldman Sachs, Haliburton, Lyft, Palo Alto Networks and more.

Affimed N.V. (NASDAQ: AFMD): Stifel downgraded the stock to Hold from Buy and cut the $9 price target to $2. Shares traded near $2 on Monday, in a 52-week range of $1.62 to $7.35.

Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY): Guggenheim’s downgrade was to Neutral from Buy. Shares have traded as high as $53.22 in the past year but were near $69 on Monday, which is up about 12% year to date.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F): UBS lowered its Neutral rating to Sell rating and cut the $13 price target to $10. Shares were last seen trading near $11. The 52-week range is $10.61 to $25.87.

Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT): Morgan Stanley’s upgrade to Overweight from Equal Weight included a price target hike to $69 from $66. Shares traded near $53 on Monday, in a 52-week range of $47.37 to $74.35.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM): As UBS downgraded the shares to Neutral from Buy, it also cut the $56 price target to $38. The stock was last seen trading near $31, in a 52-week range of $30.33 to $67.21.

Kraft Heinz Co. (NASDAQ: KHC): Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock from Neutral to Buy with a $43 price target. The 52-week trading range is $32.73 to $44.87. Shares changed hands near $34 apiece on Monday.

ALSO READ: 5 Familiar ‘Strong Buy’ Stocks Trading Under $10 Have Big Upside Potential

Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR): Exane BNP Paribas upgraded it to Outperform from Neutral and has a $51 price target. The shares traded near $44 on Monday. The 52-week range is $38.22 to $62.78.

Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK): The Neutral rating at Guggenheim rose to Buy. The 52-week trading range is $71.50 to $95.72. The share price was near $91 on Monday.

Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG): Goldman Sachs downgraded the shares from Buy to Neutral with a $143 price target. The 52-week trading range is $122.72 to $165.35, and the share price was near $124 on Monday.

Toast Inc. (NYSE: TOST): Mizuho’s upgrade was to Buy from Neutral, and its price target increased to $24 from $22. Shares were last seen trading near $17, in a 52-week range of $11.91 to $69.93.

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Further federal funds rate increases and the third-quarter earnings reporting season could stir up the volatility cauldron. The best move for spooked investors may be to the top Warren Buffett stocks, as playing it safe now just makes sense.

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