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Stock Upgrades: Facebook Finds Another Friend

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

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In a week when subway riders ditched their pants, thankfully investors didn't lose their shirt. Indeed the Russell 2000 (^RUT) hit the highest level in its history in another ebullient week for equities. Unfortunately Tiffany (TIF) fell back down to Earth, tumbling 4.52% on Thursday alone, amid signs marriage may be losing its Buzz. Warren Buffett, borrowing the favorite phrase of Men's Wearhouse (MW), said, "The banks won't get this country in trouble. I guarantee it." Alas the clothing company, which fell a further 1.06% on Friday, is seriously underwater over the last year and big bank JPMorgan (JPM) may be about to get a similar shock as its London Whale crashes into dry dock. Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. (NWSA) hit a fresh 52-week peak on Thursday, although its arch rival The New York Times (NYT) had absolutely nothing to say about that.

Today in economics, November 2012 business inventories are expected to slip slightly from the previous month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. The first full week of fourth quarter earnings season starts with announcements expected out of Consolidated Edison (ED), Linear Technology (LLTC), Majesco Entertainment (COOL), PPG Industries (PPG), and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (RMCF).

Airgas (ARG): Shares get downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Allscripts-Misys Healthcare (MDRX): Raymond James moves MDRX to Strong Buy from Market Perform.

Analog Devices (ADI): Credit Suisse increases ADI to Outperform from Neutral.

Akzo Nobel (PINK: AKZOY) The specialty chemicals name is now Neutral from Underweight at HSBC Securities.

Cisco Systems (CSCO): Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation on the Dow (^DJI) component to Outperform from Neutral, and also increases its price objective by $4 to $25. Restructuring efforts are beginning to bear fruit, and gross margin downside risk has been reduced.

Deere & Company (DE): Impressed by both more balanced global fundamentals and stronger earnings growth in the Americas, JPMorgan takes the tractor titan to Neutral from Underweight.

DuPont (DD): The Dow member is now Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB): The recently surging social networking stock is boosted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank, which takes its target all the way up to $40 from $24. Mobile newsfeed ads are gaining faster traction than anticipated, and advertising revenue is seen increasing by over 40% this year.

French Banks: Crédit Agricole (PINK:CRARY) and Société Générale (PINK:SCGLY) are each up sharply in today's European trading after an Overweight-from-Equal Weight upgrade at Credit Suisse, which is favorably disposed to the duo's 2012 asset disposals.

Fusion-io (FIO): JPMorgan moves the stock to Overweight from Neutral.

Fresenius Medical (FMS): Shares are hoisted to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

Hess (HES): Credit Suisse hoists HES to Neutral from Underperform.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ): The Dow member, up sharply last week after enduring an horrific 2012, is advancing further in today's pre-market trading after being taken to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan. The price objective is also increased, to $21 from $15.

Incyte (INCY): Lazard lifts INCY to Buy from Neutral.

Infosys (INFY): The Bangalore-based Indian outsourcer, which surged 18.73% on Friday, is increased to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan. (Note that the stock simultaneously suffered a downgrade this morning.)

Manulife Financial (MFC): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at UBS, which highlights moderating risks and higher rate trends.

MetroPCS Communications (PCS): Raymond James juices its recommendation to Outperform from Market Perform with a $12 target.

Munich Re (PINK:MURGY): Barclays boosts the German insurance outfit to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Norfolk Southern (NSC): The railroad is raised to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

W.W. Grainger (GWW): GWW gets a Buy-from-Hold boost with Wunderlich, which also increases its objective to $255 from $208 after the industrial equipment outfit hosted a well-received analyst day.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Time to Run From American Express? and New Stock Coverage: High Fives For Rock-Tenn.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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