Riverbed Technology, Inc. (RVBD), Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA), Spectra Energy Corp. (SE): Three Upgrades Worth Noting on Wednesday

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Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RVBD)Analysts were hard at work on Wednesday — not only making calls — but good calls. In this piece, I am looking at three such calls that were thorough, logical, and should be used as part of your research. Then, I’ll explore which of these three calls is the best!

Calling against the trend

Lazard’s Ryan Hutchinson is especially bullish when it comes to Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RVBD). Hutchinson notes that the company’s Granite storage optimization gear and OPNET’s NPM software (network performance management) will boost growth while “creating a stickier customer base.”

Hutchinson spoke with CFO Ernie Maddock as part of his research – leading to his “Buy” rating – and is now confident that the company can integrate OPNET and benefit from improvements in federal spending.

Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RVBD) has seen its stock decline 21% in 2013. After an early pop on Wednesday of 3%, shares are currently trading lower by 0.50%. The reason for these losses has been the company’s slow growth in its WAN hardware business. Moreover, investors are concerned with the outcome of OPNET and federal spending; two areas where Hutchinson is bullish.

In my opinion, Hutchinson’s research was thorough and he made his call after both channel checks and talks directly with the company. This is a company that is still growing at more than 30% year-over-year and is trading at just 13 times next year’s earnings. While it remains risky, I think it might be worth a small investment position.

“Long-term” price target boosts shares

Robert Baird raised Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) price target on Wednesday to $118 and shares popped more than 5% to just shy of $100. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has now rallied 200% in 2013 and Baird believes that the ecosystem being built (including charging stations) will produce long-term growth. Baird specifically notes the potential of Model X and Generation III models as being the future of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and its growth.

The stock boomed on Wednesday – just $19 shy of Baird’s price target – but it appears as though investors do not realize that this is a long-term target. Baird is basing the upgrade on ecosystem expansion and models that are not yet available in the market. Therefore, Baird is suggesting minimal returns over the next two years.

Personally, I find this upgrade both responsible and accurate. For the last several months, analysts have jumped on the Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) bandwagon and have discounted that much of the gains are speculative. If Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) can reach its goal with more than 200 charging stations in the next few years and build on the success of the Model S then I could see a $118 price target as reasonable in the next few years. As of now, a price/sales of 11.55 is too expensive in a space that trades at 0.50 times sales.

Removing a significant overhang boosts the outlook

The future of Spectra Energy Corp. (NYSE:SE)’s legacy natural gas pipeline and storage assets has been the subject of much debate for the last several months. On Wednesday, Spectra Energy Corp. (NYSE:SE) removed that speculation when it dropped those assets into Spectra Energy Partners. This move makes the company much more financially secure, and analysts are “buying” the move.

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