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Upgrades & Downgrades: Motorola Mobility Moving in Wrong Direction


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

Europe turned its clocks back by an only hour yesterday but the markets partied like it was 12 years earlier, in 1999 when the common currency was born and the continent's mood ebullient. A bailout deal and bank recapitalization across the Atlantic bought some time if nothing else and sent the Dow Average up 3.58%, back above 12,000 and on course for its best October ever. Investors appeared encouraged that the agreement met with the critical approval of Germany, an absolute prerequisite for success given the country's famed reputation for efficiency and accountability - if not in accounting. Indeed a mood of renewal was apparent in neighboring countries as well, what with Ireland voting in an election. (I would say "with Ireland going to the Poles" but that would exaggerate the level of European harmony which exists.) Here at home Avon (AVP) slid 17% in a week it was revealed a notorious occupant of the Lipstick Building unsuccessfully attempted to shuffle off his mortal coil.

Whirlpool (WHR), home of the underemployed lonely Magtag repairman, is to eliminate 5,000 positions, proof misery loves company. Michael Jackson, who expired in the exact same month as our last recession officially did, continues to be in better financial shape than America's current economy, notwithstanding a firmer than expected GDP figure. And amid heightened calls for the return of Glass-Steagall, glass ceilings came crashing down at International Business Machines (IBM), where a woman now reigns supreme at the erstwhile home of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. This morning in economics, analysts expect an decline in October's Chicago Purchasing Managers Index at 9:45 a.m. Eastern. Peak earnings week has past but a slew of companies are still to report results, today's quarterly scorecard including Allstate (ALL), Baker Hughes (BHI), Cooper Tire & Rubber (CTB), Forest Oil (FST), Honda Motor (HMC), Mercury General (MCY), Shaw Group (SHAW), and Williams Cos (WMB).


News Corp. (NWSA): UBS assigns a Neutral on the media empire.

Grocery-related stocks: Whole Foods (WFM), whose shares hit a fresh half-decade high last week, is a new Neutral at JPMorgan, which assigns an identical rating on Kroger (KR), and has an Overweight on Supervalu (SVU), sending their shares up before the bell.

Arcelor Mittal (MT): UBS has a new Buy on steel giant MT.

Orient-Express (OEH): The hotel operator is initiated with an Overweight by Barclays.

FirstEnergy (FE): FE is a new Neutral at UBS.

Golar LNG Partners (GMLP): GMLP gets begun with a Buy at Citigroup, which establishes a price objective of $32.


Broadcom (BRCM): JMP Securities boosts BRCM to Outperform from Market Perform.

Juniper Networks (JNPR): The networking name is upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.

Lamar Advertising (LAMR): LAMR is lifted to Outperform from Neutral with Wedbush.

Aetna (AET): The insurance outfit gets upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Marsh McLennan (MMC): MMC is moved to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Arkansas Best (ABFS): The stock is now Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

Weyerhaeuser (WY): The paper and forest products powerhouse is hoisted to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank.


Chevron (CVX): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the key Dow component to Neutral from Buy. For related content, see Inside the Canadian Tar Sands, Keystone XL Debate: Why Political Forces Are Pitting Jobs Against the Environment.

Novartis (NVS): The Swiss pharmaceutical firm is now Neutral from Outperform at Cowen & Company.

Newmont Mining (NEM): NEM is downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at CIBC World Markets. See also Will Precious Metals Go Up Along With the General Stock Market?

Arch Coal (ACI): Credit Agricole cuts ACI by an unusual 180 degrees, to Underperform from Outperform.

Motorola Mobility (MMI): The telecom stock is taken to Sell from Hold at Societe Generale.

SanDisk (SNDK): SNDK shares are slumping ahead of the open after being downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $58 target price at at Sterne Agee. Though they continue to like the long-term story, shares are currently priced for perfection after a 65% rebound in the last two months.

Air France-KLM: The stock, which trades in the States under symbol AFLYY, is downgraded to Sell from Hold at Societe Generale.

France Telecom (FTE): FTE is taken to Sell from Neutral at UBS.

Baltic Trading (BALT): FBR Capital cuts BALT to Market Perform from Outperform amid a challenging outlook for the dry-bulk market in 2012 and their expectation that the recent market uptick will be short-lived.

Ann Inc (ANN): The clothing company, formerly known as Ann Taylor, is taken to Neutral from Buy at Suntrust.

Fossil (FOSL): FOSL is reduced to Hold from Buy at Brean Murray based on valuation.

Dentsply (XRAY): XRAY is downgraded to Underperform from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

ClearBridge Energy MLP Opportunity Fund (EMO): EMO is among several energy income equities Reduced to Neutral from Outperform by brokers Robert W. Baird. Pent-up demand for MLP equity issuance, both primary and follow-on capital, could act as a head wind in November.

Carter Holdings (CRI): CRI is cut to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee.

Sage plc: SGPYY is downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Olin (OLN): Shares are lowered sharply, to Underperform from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. (CRM): CRM is cut to Equal Weight at Global Equity Research.

Great Plains Energy (GXP): The stock gets moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Public Storage (PSA): PSA is downgraded to Hold from Buy at ISI Group, whose REIT research team was voted Wall Street's best by Institutional Investor magazine earlier in the month.

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