Brokers say buy Medibank Private Ltd and this share today

There are few things investors would like to hear more than news that brokers have just upgraded a share in their portfolio to a buy recommendation.

Just like sell recommendations can drag a share price down, buy recommendations can act as a catalyst to take a share price to new heights.

I like to point to Freelancer Ltd (ASX: FLN) as proof of what can happen. When it was upgraded to a buy recommendation by Swiss investment bank UBS it soared 11%. Since then it has continued to climb higher and now sits up around 17% higher than where it was before UBS recommended it.

Well the good news for shareholders of a couple of shares on the ASX is that they have recently been upgraded to a buy recommendation by brokers. They are as follows:

Medibank Private Ltd (ASX: MPL)

Australia’s largest listed private health insurer Medibank Private has been upgraded by brokers to consensus buy recommendation, according to CommSec.

It would appear as though the company impressed brokers with its presentation at a recent investor conference held by Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG).  At the conference its management reaffirmed full year guidance of premium revenue growth of 4.5% to 5.0% and operating profit above $470m.

At 22x estimated FY 2016 earnings the shares may look expensive compared to the rest of the market, but not when compared to its health insurance rival NIB Holdings Limited (ASX: NHF) which trades on a similar multiple.

The fact that Medibank’s earnings are expected to grow at 22% per annum for the next couple of years definitely justifies paying 22x earnings for the shares in my opinion. As long as it delivers on these expectations I feel sure this will provide shareholders with good returns.

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL)

Goldman Sachs has just upgraded Woodside Petroleum to a buy recommendation with a $32 price target. Including its fully franked dividend this would mean a 25% expected total shareholder return for investors.

Due to the fact its share price has yet to take off this year, it believes the shares offer a better risk/reward for investors over the next 12 months than its LNG peers.

With the company’s investor day coming on May 20, Goldman Sachs is expecting management to give a comprehensive update and announce a dividend payout ratio of 80% which it believes can be maintained for the next few years.

This is quite a contrast to its peer Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) which it believes may be forced to suspend its dividend. Because of this I can imagine Woodside Petroleum becoming an attractive investment option for those seeking exposure to the industry. Thus, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the share price reach Goldman Sachs’ price target.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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