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JPMorgan downgrades Cleveland-Cliffs stock amid revised forecasts

EditorEmilio Ghigini
Published 06/11/2024, 05:03 AM

On Tuesday, JPMorgan adjusted its stance on Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE:CLF) stock, downgrading the company from Overweight to Neutral and reducing the price target to $17 from the previous $23.

This change reflects the firm's revised pricing forecasts for value-add and plate products, alongside concerns over increasing capital expenditure needs through 2028 and a lack of near-term growth compared to peers.

The analyst noted that auto inventories appear to have normalized, with May ending at 48 days of supply, which aligns with what JPMorgan's Auto Research team considers the new normal of approximately 46 days, as opposed to the pre-COVID level of around 60 days. Additionally, a slight year-over-year decline in U.S. light vehicle production is anticipated for 2025, suggesting limited demand from inventory restocking.

Cleveland-Cliffs' challenges in the electric vehicle demand and an oversupplied non-oriented electrical steel market were also highlighted. Despite these headwinds, the analyst acknowledged that Cleveland-Cliffs is performing well under difficult conditions and possesses appealing prospects for the medium to long term.

The downgrade comes as industry experts monitor auto inventory levels and production forecasts as indicators of demand for Cleveland-Cliffs' products. The firm's capital expenditure needs and competitive landscape in the steel market also play a significant role in assessing the company's stock outlook.

Investors are now considering JPMorgan's revised expectations as they evaluate Cleveland-Cliffs' financial health and strategic positioning in the evolving steel industry.

In other recent news, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. has made significant strides in its operations and strategic initiatives. The company's First Quarter 2024 Earnings Conference Call revealed a strong rebound in profitability, with an adjusted EBITDA of $414 million. Additionally, Cleveland-Cliffs has initiated a new $1.5 billion share repurchase program following the buyback of over 30 million shares.

In terms of analyst ratings, Jefferies has initiated coverage on Cleveland-Cliffs with a Buy rating, citing the company's high leverage and potential for increased market share as positive factors. However, Wolfe Research and Citi Research have downgraded the company to Underperform and Neutral, respectively.

In other developments, Cleveland-Cliffs has refuted claims made by the U.S. Steel Board regarding a potential sale of U.S. Steel to a foreign entity, emphasizing its commitment to keeping U.S. Steel American-owned.

The company has also been engaged in strategic acquisitions and mergers, which analysts believe could strengthen its market position, despite concerns over premium valuations and integration risks.

These recent developments highlight Cleveland-Cliffs' proactive approach to enhancing shareholder value and positioning itself for long-term sustainability in the steel industry.

InvestingPro Insights

Following JPMorgan's recent downgrade of Cleveland-Cliffs, it's important for investors to consider various market metrics and expert analyses. According to real-time data from InvestingPro, Cleveland-Cliffs has a market capitalization of $7.44 billion and is trading with a P/E ratio of 12.88 based on the last twelve months as of Q1 2024. Despite a slight revenue decline of 1.92% during the same period, the company remains a significant player in the Metals & Mining industry. Furthermore, InvestingPro Tips highlight that the stock is currently in oversold territory according to its RSI, and the company has been aggressively buying back shares, signaling confidence from management.

Investors should also note that while Cleveland-Cliffs does not pay a dividend, its valuation implies a strong free cash flow yield. This could be a point of interest for those focused on the company's cash generation abilities. Additionally, with an analyst consensus fair value of $19.5 and InvestingPro's fair value at $20.76, there may be potential upside from the current price level. For those looking to delve deeper into Cleveland-Cliffs' financials and strategic positioning, InvestingPro offers additional tips and insights. Use coupon code PRONEWS24 to get an additional 10% off a yearly or biyearly Pro and Pro+ subscription, and gain access to the full list of 11 InvestingPro Tips for Cleveland-Cliffs, including detailed analyses and projections.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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