Stock Research Updates: Facebook Friended on Year's Final Day

By Justin Sharon  DEC 31, 2012 9:11 AM

Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.


MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL “Buy When It Snows, Sell When It Goes.” Alas Wall Street’s time honored winter advice failed to work its customary magic last week even as the first storm of the season worked its way across the country. Investors sensibly opted not to buy into any inclement weather pattern named after a Greek mathematician. The Dow (^DJI), now negative for December, thus dropped 1.92% as it fell on each day of an admittedly holiday-shortened week, something which hasn’t happened since mid-May. (“Sell in May and Go Away” evidently remains a much more profitable cliché in American finance.) While Euclid’s heirs in Athens were taking to the streets in protest at the prospect of working on Sundays, on Capitol Hill lawmakers convened in a rare Sunday night session to discuss the fiscal cliff. Clearly Congress, which has passed a scant 218 bills this session — comfortably the lowest amount in over 60 years — wanted to belatedly appear to get its act together before the biggest bill of all comes due.
Rio’s Copacabana beach was voted the top new year destination on Earth and, if its fierce rival São Paulo subsequently felt slighted, it can console itself in a 13.22% surge in hometown hero Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL). Payday lender Cash Store Financial Services (CSFS) performed even better, advancing 13.5%, although its good mood likely won’t survive the current cover of Barron’s. Valencia-based financial behemoth Bankia (PINK:BNKXF) plunged 40% to a record low in posting the single worst showing of all European stocks. Spain’s third largest city is currently suffering from an unemployment rate of 28% although, by offering weekly courses in the world’s oldest profession for $127, is at least attempting to stimulate its economy.
Herbalife (HLF), accused of operating a pyramid scheme in a 342-page report by Bill Ackman, tumbled 24.21%, and the home of the pharaohs didn’t enjoy the best week, either. Marvell Technology (MRVL) fell 14% after losing a contentious court battle with Carnegie Mellon. Marvel dried milk, made by Premier Foods (PINK:PRRFY), was a much better bet, with that stock up almost 100% in 2012. (Even if, according to 1980s lore, Wall Street traders are more partial to another white powder.) It would need to have been a quick trade however, as Premier is presently plunging 7.6% in London, making it today’s worst performer on the FTSE 100. You see, our politicians appear to have averted a brewing milk crisis by backing a one-year extension of an expiring farm law at the last minute. Congress, take tomorrow off — you’ve unquestionably earned that recent pay raise.
No top-tier economic data due today, and fixed income markets are scheduled for an early close at 2:00 p.m. Eastern ahead of tomorrow’s NYSE new year holiday. In corporate earnings action, Cal-Maine Foods (CALM) and Progress Software (PRGS) are each expected to announce earnings.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) Citing FDA approval of its anti-clotting drug Eliquis, Atlantic Equities boosts the pharmaceutical firm to Neutral from Underweight with a $32.50 target price. Shares are up 2.38% ahead of this morning’s opening bell as a result.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB): The social network gets an unusual 180 degree (Outperform-from-Underperform) boost from prior coverage by BMO Capital, which also increases its price objective to $32 from $15. Catalysts include an uptick in advertising spending for both mobile and video. The stock has subsequently edged up in today’s pre-market trading.
Ferro Corp. (FOE): Shares are moved to Neutral from Buy at Monness Crespi & Hardt amid both a sharp recent share-price run up and uncertain business outlook.
Galena Biopharma (GALE): The stock is picked up with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray.
Oil & Gas: Goldman Sachs has a new Neutral on Alon USA Partners (ALDW) and begins Buy rated research on Alon USA Energy (ALJ). Its respective objectives are $31 and $21.
PMFG Inc (PMFG): Shares are hoisted to Buy from Hold with an $11 price objective at Needham, which says the company can benefit from its role as a provider of filtration products for the energy industry.
TranS1 (TSON): The medical device designer gets begun with an Outperform at Barrington.
WhiteHorse Finance (WHF): Citigroup starts the stock at a Buy ($16 target) while JPMorgan (Overweight) and Robert W. Baird (Outperform) are equally upbeat.
Estimate Changes:
Wells Fargo, while keeping its overall rating on Intel (INTC) unchanged, nonetheless raises next year’s earnings estimates on the key Dow (^DJI) component by 4%. “Secular themes such as cloud computing and data traffic created by mobile computing could drive x86 server-related processor growth,” its analysts wrote in a note.
Regal Entertainment (RGC): Stifel Nicolaus, although its general recommendation remains unchanged, boosts numbers on the cinema stock, citing a blockbuster year for movie attendance.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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