Shares of Pinnacle Financial Partners got a nice endorsement Tuesday from SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. The firm initiated coverage of the largest Nashville-based bank with a 'buy' rating and a Street-high $42 price target — and this is after Pinnacle (Ticker: PNFP) had climbed this year from about $32.50 to $37.50.
New York boutique firm Monness Crespi & Hardt this week launched coverage of the hospital sector with a mix of 'neutral' and 'buy' ratings. In the former basket are local player LifePoint Hospitals as well as Tenet Healthcare and Universal Health Services, the (somewhat) recent buyers of Vanguard Health Systems and Psychiatric Solutions, respectively. Blessed with 'buy' ratings are the industry's top two, HCA Holdings and Community Health Systems. The Monness Crespi & Hardt analysts see HCA (Ticker: HCA) climbing to $63 from about $52 and CHS (Ticker: CYH) moving to $51 from its current levels around $39.
With all the talk on TV and online about a potential market top, you can't really argue with executives and directors who think it's a good idea to cash in a few of their chips. That's what Pinnacle Financial Partners Chief Administrative Officer Hugh Queener and LifePoint Hospitals directors John Maupin and Marguerite Kondracke did this week. Queener sold more than $310,000 worth of his Pinnacle stock on Tuesday, a day before spending $175,000 to exercise a bunch of options that would have expired next month. Maupin and Kondracke, meanwhile, each pocketed more than $100,000 by selling 2,000 of their LifePoint shares. They both still own more than 20,000 shares of the Brentwood-based company.
Wunderlich Securities analyst Kevin Reynolds has taken note of the very nice run Pinnacle Financial Partners has had in recent months and downgraded shares of the largest bank headquartered in the Nashville area to 'hold' from 'buy.' It's a simple valuation call: Reynolds says Pinnacle (Ticker: PNFP) deserves to trade at a multiple to its peers but that it would be getting ahead of itself if it traded higher than its current level of $37.
Seth Basham at Wedbush has formally launched his coverage of Tractor Supply with an 'outperform' rating and a price target of $80. That leaves investors an upside of about 10 percent from the stock's (Ticker: TSCO) current level.
Two of Middle Tennessee's more prominent stocks hit new longtime highs Tuesday on the back of a broader market rally based on an easing in the Ukraine crisis. The region's most valuable company, HCA Holdings, hit $52.49 in early trading, its highest level since going public again almost four years ago. The company is now worth more than $22.7 billion. Over in the banking sector, investors in Pinnacle Financial Partners saw their holdings climb more than 4 percent to top $37 for the first time since September of 2006. The largest bank headquartered in Music City has been rallying steadily for more than a year is now valued at a little more than $1.3 billion.
Pinnacle Financial Partners plans to add to its retail network in Knoxville this year with the building of a branch scheduled to open in the second half. Execs have their eyes on a site in the Powell area northwest of downtown but have not yet closed on their purchase. The office will be Pinnacle's fifth in Knoxville, where it first began doing business in 2007 and where it now ranks sixth in deposit market share. The company (Ticker: PNFP) also is adding 2,000 square feet of space to its main Knoxville office on Northshore Boulevard. The new office will house employees of its trust and Pinnacle Asset Management groups as well as client advisors.
Two analysts are expecting good things from Pinnacle Financial Partners following the company's fourth-quarter report, which pumped up the stock by 7 percent Wednesday. At Sterne Agee, Peyton Green has raised his rating to 'buy' from 'hold,' while Jefferson Harralson at Keefe Bruyette & Woods now rates the stock at 'outperform,' up from 'market perform.' Harralson now sees Pinnacle (Ticker: PNFP) going to $40 instead of $30; the stock ended Wednesday's session at $34.50.
Cory Garcia at Raymond James isn't as upbeat about the prospects for Delek US Holdings shares for a number reasons. In downgrading the stock (Ticker: DK), Garcia cites both valuation and a lack of near-term catalysts for the refining sector in general. Delek shares closed Wednesday at $32.51 and have climbed more than 20 percent in the past three months.