This Just In: Upgrades and Downgrades: Navistar International Corp (NAV), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)

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At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and “initiating coverage at neutral.” Today, we’ll show you whether those bigwigs actually know what they’re talking about. To help, we’ve enlisted Motley Fool CAPS to track the long-term performance of Wall Street’s best and worst.

Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV)Guided by a Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV)
Shares of truckmaker Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV) — the company behind the International brand of long-haul trucks — set out on a bit of a long haul itself last week. After reporting earnings (and a management change) that exceeded expectations Thursday, Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV) shares spiked 28% in a single day. Then, on Friday, the shares gained another 11% as Wall Street analysts began to rethink their opinions of where Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV) is headed.

On Friday, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) upgraded Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV) shares to “overweight” and assigned them a $45 target price on “moderate cash burn” and reduced “liquidity risks.” Acknowledging that the shares had gained sharply in Thursday trading, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) argued they were nonetheless still cheap and bound to go higher.

Jefferies’ opinion was similar. Reiterating its buy rating and confirming JP’s $45 target price, Jefferies said it sees Navistar continuing to cut costs, improving “sequentially,” and “ramping into a profitable 2014.” According to Jefferies, Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV) is quite literally “the cheapest EV/sales name” that Jefferies is covering today.

Which got me to thinking: Fine about today, but what about tomorrow? Can the amazing turnaround in Navistar’s fortunes perhaps point us to other stocks that other analysts will be upgrading in the future?

Three to keep an eye on
Taking a close look at Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV), and then plugging the company’s vital statistics into a screening engine on finviz.com, I began hunting about for a few such companies. I screened for companies showing modest but not exceptional growth prospects of 5% or above (Navistar is at 7%), a fairly high debt load (half of equity or more), and also positive trailing free cash flow (Navistar generated $211 in FCF last year). The results included some interesting names:

Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK)
In many ways, Oshkosh looks a lot like Navistar. It’s a large vehicle manufacturer, for one thing — fire trucks, armored cars, and construction equipment, as opposed to tractor-trailers. It has a sizable debt load to it, if not as much as it once did, and if not as much as Navistar still has. And of course, like Navistar today, Oshkosh was once the object of Carl Icahn’s desire. Only last year, he tried to buy the company.

And no wonder. Oshkosh also generates about as much free cash flow in a year as Navistar does ($195 million), despite sporting an enterprise value less than two-thirds of Navistar’s. With a lighter debt load, a price-to-free cash flow ratio of only 18, and a 17% long-term projected growth rate, Oshkosh looks like a winner. Although Oshkosh’s enterprise value-to-sales ratio — the metric Jefferies refers to — is identical to Navistar’s at 0.48, I think Oshkosh offers a better bargain.

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