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The Boeing Company (BA), Kraft Foods Group Inc (KRFT): Thursday’s Top Upgrades (and Downgrades)

This series, brought to you by Yahoo! Finance, looks at which upgrades and downgrades make sense, and which ones investors should act on. Today, our headlines include higher price targets for The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) and Kraft Foods Group Inc (NASDAQ:KRFT). Meanwhile, one last analyst is…

The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)

Mopping up the enthusiasm at Heinz
It’s been a month-and-a-half since news of Berkshire Hathaway‘s buyout of H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) became public. Six weeks after the fact, Argus Research is declaring victory and going home to count its profits. Today, the analyst removed its successful buy rating from the stock, giving investors the green light to go ahead and sell the shares and pocket their 35%, one-year profit.

This sounds like sound advice. Berkshire’s Heinz acquisition may not close until the end of the third quarter, which means anyone holding the shares could be sitting on dead money for the next three months. Absent a competing, upset bid — which is unlikely, because who other than Buffett would be crazy enough to pay 23.5 times earnings for 6.6% growth? — all Heinz shareholders have to look forward to now is their April 10 dividend payment.

Anyone who held on to the shares through close of business on March 25 should already be entitled to that, though. If the check’s not yet “in the mail,” it soon will be. So as of now, there’s little reason left to stick around.

Stifel spells profit “K-R-(A)-F-T”
And where should you put your money next? Well, if investing in processed foods is your thing, then the analysts at Stifel Nicolaus have an idea for you. This morning, Stifel upped its target price on Kraft Foods Group Inc (NASDAQ:KRFT) by about 12%, to $55 a share.

In some respects, Kraft actually looks more enticing than the Heinz shares that Buffett is buying. The company pays a 3.9% dividend. It’s cheaper, too, costing less than 19 times earnings. And like Heinz, Kraft throws off mondo free cash flow — $2.6 billion over the past 12 months, versus the $1.6 billion it reported as GAAP net income.

On the downside, though, Kraft Foods Group Inc (NASDAQ:KRFT) is only growing about half as fast as Heinz, with five-year growth estimates averaging an anemic 3.4%. Is that fast enough to justify the stock’s valuation, at 12 times annual cash profits? Personally, I don’t think it is. But clearly, Stifel disagrees. In addition to the better price target, Stifel rates Kraft a buy.

Could Boeing shares go “boing!”?
A more interesting, non-food-related idea comes from the folks at Imperial Capital, which today upped its price target on The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA). Continued “headline risk” at the company is keeping Imperial from actually recommending buying Boeing shares, mind you. But the analyst is raising its estimate on the shares’ worth to $88.

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