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New Stock Coverage: Magnum Hunter Looks Like a Long Shot


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Equities eked out gains, with the Nasdaq (^IXIC) ending up for a fourth straight session, although the lightest volume of 2012 testified to a chronic lack of trading activity. Markets were encouraged as a report from the National Association of Realtors, home of fuzzy math, showed July pending home sales increased by a better-than-expected 2.4%. Bourses were also boosted by a bump up in Q2 Gross Domestic Product to 1.7% according to the Commerce Department. (Still hardly stellar and arguably less reason for relief than the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce denying Kim Kardashian a spot on the Walk of Fame.) World War II allies Italy and Germany publicly disagreed in a week which has brought not one but two reminders that conflict continues to simmer some 67 years later.

Today's earnings announcements are expected to include Bio-Reference Labs (BRLI), Ciena (CIEN), Gazprom (OGZPY), Methode Electronics (MEI), OmniVision Technologies (OVTI), Pernod Ricard (PDRDY), Splunk (SPLK) Gordmans Stores (GMAN), Vivendi (VIVHY), WPP Plc (WPPGY), and Zumiez (ZUMZ).

Aetna (AET): Shares are a new Neutral at Credit Suisse

Alliance Data Systems (ADS): Citigroup starts the stock with a Neutral and assigns a price objective of $146.

Centene (CNC): The stock is covered with a Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Cepheid (CPHD): Cantor Fitzgerald has a Hold and $40 target price. Catalysts, including a competitive menu of diagnostic tests, are already adequately reflected in the current valuation in its view.

Equifax (EFX): EFX is assigned with a Hold at Deutsche Bank, whose target is $47.

Geron Corp (GERN): The biotech is up sharply before this morning's opening bell after being begun with a Buy at Stifel Nicolaus.

Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR): Shares are a new Neutral at Goldman Sachs, whose target is $6.

Natural Resource Partners (NRP): Dahlman Rose launches the limited partnership at a Hold, as coal royalty growth is expected to be constrained by production curtailment in Appalachia.

QR Energy (QRE): Shares are initiated with an Overweight and $21 objective at JPMorgan.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): The company is begun with a Buy at ThinkEquity.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Pandora Out of the Penalty Box and Stock Downgrades: Hanging Up on Ericsson.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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