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August 9, 2022 2:56 am

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Will July’s Employment Report Make or Break? Analysts Upgrade or Downgrade PayPal, XPeng and More

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Markets pushed higher on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq leading the charge higher, up almost 2% on the day. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrials lagged, each up about 1%. This came on the heels of two consecutive down days for markets and a highly controversial politician visit to Taiwan.

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While investors are watching the bounce from these back-to-back losses, more economic data is on the horizon in the form of Friday’s July employment report. Consensus estimates are calling for nonfarm payrolls to increase by 250,000 and private payrolls to increase by 223,000. Note that nonfarm payrolls rose by 372,000 in June.

Even Jim Cramer of CNBC is noting the significance of the July report. He commented on “Mad Money” that if the report is solid, “the fabulous July rally can stand.” However, if the report does not live up to expectations, “then some of this rally, if not much of it, is going to be repealed.”

Cramer’s reasoning behind this assumption is that the Federal Reserve will either have to slam on the brakes harder, in terms of interest rates, or it can coast and have what many are calling a “soft landing.” We will have to wait until Friday to see how this shakes out.

24/7 Wall St. is reviewing additional analyst calls seen on Wednesday. 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 Caterpillar, Chesapeake, Ford, Plug Power, Uber and more.

CF Industries Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CF): Citigroup upgraded the stock to Buy from Neutral and has a $117 price target. The 52-week trading range is $43.19 to $113.49, and shares slipped below $97 apiece Wednesday morning.

Cognex Corp. (NASDAQ: CGNX): Bernstein lifted its Market Perform rating to Outperform with a $65 price target. Stephens downgraded the stock to Equal Weight from Overweight and slashed the $80 price target to $45. The 52-week trading range is $41.69 to $92.17. Shares changed hands near $48 apiece on Wednesday.

Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ESPR): Credit Suisse’s downgrade was to Underperform from Neutral, and it trimmed the $7 price target to $6. The shares traded below $6 on Wednesday. The 52-week trading range is $3.28 to $15.09 a share.

Incyte Corp. (NASDAQ: INCY): Evercore ISI’s downgrade to In-Line from Outperform included a price target cut to $78 from $90. Guggenheim’s downgrade was to Neutral from Buy. The 52-week trading range is $61.91 to $84.86, and the share price was more than $73 Wednesday morning.

PayPal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL): SMBC Nikko upgraded the shares to Neutral from Underperform and raised the $90 price target to $100. The 52-week trading range is $67.58 to $296.70. The stock traded near $99 on Wednesday.

Sealed Air Corp. (NYSE: SEE): The Sector Perform rating at RBC Capital Markets rose to Outperform, and the $66 price target increased to $70. The 52-week trading range is $54.51 to $70.72, and shares were trading near $57 on Wednesday.

XPeng Inc. (NYSE: XPEV): Macquarie’s Outperform rating was cut to Neutral with a $25 price target. The stock traded near $23 on Wednesday. The 52-week trading range is $18.01 to $56.45.

Xylem Inc. (NYSE: XYL): Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to Neutral from Underperform. It also raised the $77 price target to $96. The stock traded near $96 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $72.08 to $138.78.

Energy MLP stocks have backed up big-time and are offering some of the best entry points for income investors this year. Seven are Buy rated at top Wall Street firms, pay huge distributions and look like great total return picks now.

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