Ahead of the Bell: Baker Hughes

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jefferies & Co. upgraded Baker Hughes on Wednesday as its operations go into overdrive.

Analyst Brad Handler pointed to the company's pressure pumping operations, though many expect activity to be mostly subdued this year.

"Highlighting upside potential in pumping may seem counterintuitive, since U.S. activity for the industry is showing signs of being even flatter through 2013 than we thought previously (which in turn allows for at least modest continued pricing risk)," Hander said. "But we see BHI as a likely relative winner (along with large cap service peers), largely due to rising capability to execute on 24-hour/7-day-a-week fracking operations."

Handler upped his rating to "buy," from "hold," and also increased his price target for the stock by $6 to $54.

Handler increased his profit prediction for the year by 5 cents to $3.15 per share. Analysts, on average, expect a profit of $3.05 per share, according to FactSet.

In premarket trading, shares of Baker Hughes Inc. rose 36 cents to $45.78.