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Stock Upgrades: No More Tears for Johnson & Johnson

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL The Fed's Washington, DC, headquarters is named after man called Marriner and, with such an appellation, one would think that the august body knows how to set sail. Alas, QE4 evidently won't get out of dry dock, if meeting minutes released yesterday by the institution are any indication. The merest hint that its bond-buying binge won't stretch into infinity gave markets pause, and saw stocks snap a two-session streak of stellar gains. Spam arrived on the scene in 1937, the very same year as the Central Bank building, but it appears to be aging far better. Owner Hormel Foods (HRL) rose 3.72% to an all-time high after buying Skippy peanut butter. Butch Cassidy's sidekick the Sundance Kid, having survived his leap off the fiscal cliff, saw SunPower (SPWR) jump 47.96% to top the Nasdaq (^IXIC). Elsewhere our lame duck 112th Congress was sent packing, and AFLAC's (AFL) duck swan-dived 2.53% on a ratings reduction. Today in 10:00 a.m. Eastern economics, December data for factory orders and the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index each are expected to slip slightly from the prior month's pace. In earnings action, Finish Line (FINL) and Mosaic (MOS) both reported results earlier this morning.

Apparel: Under Armour (UA) and Urban Outfitters (URBN) are each increased to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Aruba Networks (ARUN): ARUN is raised to Buy from Hold with a $27 price target at Stifel Nicolaus, which has high hopes for a growth re-acceleration in 2013.

Avon Products (AVP): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the cosmetics company to Buy from Neutral.

Cardinal Health (CAH): Shares get a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Mizuho, which takes its target price up by $2 to $46. They believe a successful renewal of two major contracts will remove a meaningful overhang on the stock in 2013.

Citigroup (C): Goldman Sachs gives the stock an upgrade to Conviction Buy from Buy on account of earnings power and potential upside from restructuring initiatives. The new target is $49, up from $42. Shares are up in today's pre-market trading as a result.

Esco Technologies (ESE): Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation to Outperform from Neutral and increases its price objective to $52 from $40.

Financials: First Republic Bank (FRC) and US Bancorp (USB) are each upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Hormel Foods (HRL): Shares are hoisted to Outperform from Underperform at Crédit Agricole.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) The Dow (^DJI) component, whose products include Band-Aid, Listerine, and Tylenol, gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank. Catalysts include expectations for improving trends in 2013. The target is also increased, to $82 from $75.

Mattel (MAT): Needham takes the toy titan, whose brands include Barbie and Matchbox, to Buy from Hold amid optimism over its holiday sales and expectations of an increase in the company's current 3.3% dividend yield.

PerkinElmer (PKI): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

Quiksilver (ZQK): The retailer gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman.

Shutterfly (SFLY): Shares are hoisted to Buy from Hold at Topeka.

Target Corp. (TGT): TGT is taken to Buy from Neutral with a $72 price objective at Janney Capital, which cites expectations for profitability in Canada and growing online sales among other favorable factors.

Wynn Macau (PINK:WYNMF) The Chinese casino company gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Sanchez Energy Set to Make Its Mark and Stock Downgrades: First Solar's Moment in the Sun Already Over?)
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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