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Stock Upgrades: Bowling Giant Brunswick Out of the Gutter and Looking at the Stars

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL As the ball dropped, our politicians resolved to turn over a new leaf and for once didn't drop the ball. The Dow (^DJI) snapped a five-session skid on the final session of 2012, enjoying the best end to a year in its entire history. Not only was our fiscal cliff crisis apparently averted, but its dairy equivalent appears to have similarly dodged a bullet on January 1. (Appropriately enough, the eighth day of Christmas, when those eight maids went a-milking.) Terribly teary John Boehner thus avoids having to cry over spilled milk. However, with GOP symbol Elephant Talk Communications (ETAK) having slid 62.26% in the past 12 months, it's likely people long ago stopped listening to the House Speaker. Bank of America (BAC), just upgraded, went from worst-to-first, with the Dow's (^DJI) poorest performer in 2011 jumping 108.81% to comfortably best all blue chips in 2012. A phoenix up from the ashes, indeed. Alas University of Phoenix owner Apollo Group (APOL) wasn't nearly as fortunate, tumbling 61.17% over the past 12 months to prop up the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX). Today in economics, the Institute for Supply Management's December manufacturing index is expected to show improvement at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, and we get minutes to the Federal Open Market Committee's December 11-12 policy meeting at 2:00 p.m. In earnings action, Texas Industries (TXI) is due to report results.

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM): Miller Tabak moves the agricultural outfit to Buy from Hold.

Bank of America (BAC): The top Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) stock of 2012 is added to Evercore's list of Conviction Buys. The broker says it "is our top large-cap bank pick for '13 as it has the greatest identifiable levers, largest upside to norm earnings power, and attractive valuation."

Brunswick Corp. (NYSE:BC) The bowling, billiards, and boating behemoth gets an Outperform-from-Market Perform boost by BMO Capital Markets, which believes it is particularly well placed to benefit from an upturn in the US marine industry. The price objective is also increased, by $11 to $36.

Caterpillar (CAT): The Dow component gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at ISI Group.

C.R. Bard (BCR): JPMorgan moves the name to Overweight from Neutral.

Flir Systems (FLIR): Shares are raised to Buy from Hold at Needham.

Hain Celestial (HAIN): The equity is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital, which is heartened by the realignment of its UK portfolio. Its target is $67.

Marriott International (MAR): MAR gets taken to Buy from Neutral with an unchanged $45 objective at SunTrust.

Pepco Holdings (POM): Encouraged by a favorable regulatory backdrop, Wells Fargo hoists the stock to Outperform from Market Perform.

Qualcomm (QCOM): Citigroup adds the tech firm to its Top Picks Live list.

Smithfield Foods (SFD): The pork processor is increased to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital. Favorable factors include tight global hog supplies and lower corn prices. Its target is also taken up, by $2 to $28.

Steel Stocks: Olympic Steel (ZEUS) and United States Steel (X) each get Outperform-from-Neutral upgrades at Credit Suisse.

Tata Motors (TTM): The Indian automotive outfit is lifted to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Urban Outfitters (URBN): Jefferies juices its recommendation to Hold from Underperform on account of an improvement in top-line trends. The target price gets taken to $35 from $25.

Valspar (VAL): The painting and coating company is upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc Capital.

Walgreen (WAG): WAG is up sharply before this morning's opening bell after being moved to Outperform from Market Perform with a $45 objective at Raymond James, which is heartened by both margin momentum and easing comparisons.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Skullcandy Suffers Serious Concussion and New Stock Coverage: For 2013, Get Into the Habit of Buying Abbott.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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