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Downgrades for Pan American Silver as earnings disappoint

Pan American Silver Corp. didn't provide much for investors to cheer about in releasing its latest quarter earnings - and analysts today have reacted. Both Canaccord Genuity and Raymond James Ltd. downgraded the silver producer.

Third-quarter fully diluted adjusted earnings per share of 48 cents was well short of the consensus number of 78 cents. Canaccord's Steven Butler chalked it up to production that was substantially weaker than expected in Peru, as well as higher costs. The company's 2011 silver production guidance was also revised downward, to 22.5 million ounces from a range of 23 million to 24 million ounces.

Mr. Butler downgraded Pan American to "hold" from "buy" and slashed his price target to $31.50 (U.S.) from $37.

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Brad Humphrey at Raymond James is more bullish on the stock, but still reduced his price target by $7 to $43. His rating was lowered to "outperform" from "strong buy."

Mr. Humphrey said there are heightened concerns about political uncertainty in South America, where most of Pan American's assets reside. However, he added that "We continue to recommend investors buy shares of Pan American Silver because of its strong balance sheet, diversified asset portfolio ... and the upside potential at its 'world class' Navidad project."

Navidad, in Argentina, is considered by some as one of the most promising silver properties in the world.

Mr. Humphrey noted the project has the potential to double company output by 2016, if mining restrictions are modified in Argentina's Chubut province.


Raymond James Ltd.'s Frederic Bastien downgraded The Churchill Corp. to "market perform" from "outperform" after more disappointing quarterly results. Third-quarter profit per share of 25 cents missed the consensus forecast of 39 cents, mostly because of poor performance from its Stuart Olson Dominion construction management unit. Mr. Bastien expects margins at Stuart Olson will take some time to recover.

Downside: Br. Bastien cut his price target by $6 to $15.

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Raymond James Ltd. analyst Brad Humphrey believes investors should buy shares of Silvercorp Metals Inc. now that it can turn its attention back to operations. A KPMG Forensics audit last month vindicated the firm's claims that it has not overstated revenues, as alleged in two sets of reports that surfaced last month. "With the anonymous accounting allegations behind it, Silvercorp's management team can turn its focus back to its high grade Ying mine, strong margins, low cost structure and flexible production portfolio," he wrote.

Upside: Mr. Humphrey reaffirmed his "outperform" rating, but trimmed his price target by $1.25 to $14.75 because of "some minor" changes to his model.

Related: Silvercorp profit rises, despite cost of fighting short-sellers

Related: Independent audit vindicates Silvercorp


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Recent changes to generic drug legislation will continue to impact prescription sales at Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. , but this should be mitigated by healthy volume growth, said Canaccord Genuity analyst Candice Williams. The retailer, which reported third-quarter earnings per share of 79 cents - a penny shy of consensus - could see a boost in its stock price when there's a final decision from the Court of Appeal for Ontario in coming months related to Shoppers' application to manufacture private label generic drugs, she said.

Upside: Ms. Williams raised her price target by $2 to $42 and maintained a "hold" rating.

Related: Shoppers results still hit by drug rules


PetroBakken Energy Ltd.'s third-quarter results were below Street expectations, but the company increased its guidance for the production rate it will exit 2011 with. Raymond James Ltd.'s Justin Bouchard noted the company continued to accumulate debt during the quarter and believes it may have to hike its current bank line in order to fund next year's capital expenditure program.

Upside: Mr. Bouchard raised his price target by $1 to $8.50 and reaffirmed his "market perform" rating.

Related: PetroBakken considering asset sales

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About the Author
Investment Editor

Darcy Keith is The Globe and Mail's Investment Editor. He has been a business journalist since 1992 and joined the Report on Business in 2010 from Yahoo! Canada, where he was the senior editor of finance. More

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