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Tax reform prompts JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Capital One upgrades

Upgrades

* Buckingham Research Group's James Mitchell on Dec. 20 raised his stock ratings on JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., both to "buy" from "neutral."

The upgrade was part of a report on tax reform and 2018 EPS estimates, in which Mitchell noted that he had been "optimistic all year on the group ... [believing] the market was not pricing in upside from tax reform, deregulation or materially higher economic growth/interest rates." The tax cut alone could bring a median 12% boost to large-cap stocks' EPS, and the analyst calculates it could be as much as 18% at Wells Fargo and 19% at JPMorgan.

Mitchell raised JPMorgan's price target by $35 to $135. He raised Wells Fargo's to $75 from $57.

* A similar reassessment by Compass Point analysts, meanwhile, led to the upgrade of Capital One Financial Corp. to "buy" from "neutral."

The reduction in its federal tax rate triggered an increase in its 2018 EPS estimate to $10.50 from $8.75, assisted by company-specific factors such as efficiency gains and margin improvement. Analyst William Ryan also raised the price target to $122 from $96.

Initiation

* And FIG Partners now covers Sierra Bancorp, a Porterville, Calif.-based company with a history of acquisitions and a significant deposit franchise. In the last 12 months, analyst Timothy Coffey noted, almost $11 million of Sierra's revenue came from deposit account service fees. For comparison, the peer average is less than $5 million.

The analyst on Dec. 21 rated the stock "market perform" and gave it a price target of $30.