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Watch out for the comeback kids. While market records were broken and many stocks surged in the first half of the year, not all of them did.
Wall Street analysts were telling clients there were plenty of values to be found among stocks that ended the first half in the red. CNBC examined the most recent Wall Street research from major firms to find companies that were being recommended as comeback stories to clients after falling during the first six months of the year.
Theme park operator Six Flags has been the subject of three upgrades over the last month, with Wells Fargo being the most recent investment bank to lift its rating to buy. The company, which ended the first half down over 10%, is due to report earnings on July 24.
The stock has several "positive catalysts" despite its "volatility," according to analysts at Wells Fargo.
"We believe concerns surrounding Q219 weather, China trade implications and dividend sustainability, are fairly discounted," they said.
Health insurer Cigna ended the first half of the year down more than 17%. Shares had been under pressure as the Trump administration was pushing a plan to eliminate drug rebates from government prescription drug plans. But this week the administration dropped the idea.
"We expect the news to be favorable most specifically to entities with larger pharmacy benefit management exposure as it eliminates the uncertainty and overhang that the rebate rule had on those companies," analysts at Citi said. The firm kept its buy rating and the stock remains on the Citi focus list as a "top pick."
Travel and restaurant website TripAdvisor finished the first half down 14%. That wasn't enough to stop analysts at Needham this week from adding the buy-rated company to its "conviction list."
"We think the setup remains super attractive on a compelling second derivative directional play into 2H19," they said.
Here's what else analysts are saying about stocks to watch in the second half:
"While Marathon Petroleum's 1Q19 was a shakier start to the year than we had hoped, we think 2Q19 will prove to be a solid bounce-back quarter (which should help improve the narrative as well). We still believe MPC is uniquely positioned to optimize its now industry leading refining position, while driving growth and value in the retail and midstream segments. We think this strategy, along with increasing returns to owners, continues even if the market is currently skeptical towards the MPC story."
"According to TipRanks, Marathon Petroleum is a Strong Buy consensus with an average analyst price target of $71 (29% upside potential).
"Upgrading SIX to Outperform as we believe concerns surrounding Q219 weather, China trade implications and dividend sustainability, are fairly discounted. Despite some potential volatility around the July 24th Q219 print, we believe modest multiple re-expansion will come from potential upside catalysts of (1) improved weather entering the key Jul/Aug months , (2) likely upward Street revisions to China related estimates relative to our China 2019E/2020E revenue & Adj EBITDA cadence expectations, and (3) improved understanding of tax related cash flow items supporting the dividend/shr repo beyond 2020."
According to TipRanks, Six Flags is a Strong Buy consensus with an average analyst price target of $59 (11% upside potential).
"We expect the news to be favorable most specifically to entities with larger PBM exposure as it eliminates the uncertainty and overhang that the rebate rule had on those companies. We note that PBMs had previously suggested a manageable impact on profitability should the rebate system be overhauled and removed since they largely pass through 100% of rebates to their Part D customers through pricing down premiums."
According to TipRanks, Cigna is a Strong Buy consensus with an average analyst price target of $222 (39% upside potential).
"We are placing TripAdvisor on the Needham Conviction List. We think the setup remains super attractive on a compelling second derivative directional play into 2H19. In particular, we think 2Q likely marks the low watermark for Hotel, Media & Platform y/y declines, and while it may take until 4Q for a return to growth, at the current valuation, we view expectations as sufficiently low, given the Experiences segment underperformance in 1Q and likely acceleration into 2H."
According to TipRanks, TripAdvisor is a Moderate Buy consensus with an average analyst price target of $58 (26% upside potential).
"Pure Storage remains in the top quintile of revenue growth for IT hardware, given it remains unencumbered by legacy hard-disk drive technology, and the company continues to build an economic moat around its storage array offerings."
According to TipRanks, Pure Storage is a Moderate Buy consensus with an average analyst price target of $23 (47%upside potential).
"In a recent court filing, CC quantified potential high-end liabilities of approximately $2.5B. We estimate that CC's current valuation of 4.1x 2020E EBITDA assumes exposure of ~ $5.5B, or more than 2x the upper end of what CC has been able to estimate. With risks being more than discounted in the current share price and TiO2 fundamentals stabilizing, we maintain our Buy rating."
According to TipRanks, Chemours is a Strong Buy consensus with an average analyst price target of $37 (88% upside potential).