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Upgrades & Downgrades: Life's Sweet for Hershey


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

Those ads Benetton just unveiled showing Sarkozy kissing Merkel clearly didn't do much for the Italian clothing company, which promptly saw its shares slump to their lowest level since 1986. They did however unwittingly reveal just how badly Europe's economy needs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Concerns about continental contagion sent the S&P 500 down 3.81%, stocks' weekly worst showing since September meaning the index is now negative for 2011. While an old book expressing skepticism on European integration gets a new look - and its cover alone is worth the purchase price - the Occupy movement was evacuated from Zuccotti Park, though they are still able to evacuate its bladders at McDonald's (MCD), the corporate behemoth "hosting hundreds of bathroom visits daily" in an exceptionally odd marriage of convenience. Lululemon Athletica (LULU), longtime favorite of meditating protesters, dropped 9.1% and a 91-year old yoga instructor showed it's never too late to get a job.

Elsewhere Herbalife (HLF) kept its head above water while most other investors lost their shirts, ending up 0.2% in a week its expensively clad soccer star finally showed he is more than just a pretty face. Citigroup (C) tumbled 10.4% in a torrid tape for financials, mass layoffs apparently coming to a company whose ex-CEO is putting his home on the market for $88 million. H.J. Heinz (HNZ), famous for its "57 Varieties" - one for each state in the union, according to Obama - fell 3.31% after reporting earnings on Friday. And who wants to be a millionaire? A new survey showed many Americans won't retire until age 80. Is that your final answer? Regis Philbin, age 80, just did call it quits. This morning in economics, a slippage is seen in October existing home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Today's earnings include Analog Devices (ADI), Brocade Communications (BRCD), Collective Brands (PSS), Dycom Industries (DY), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Jack in the Box (JACK), and Trina Solar (TSL).


AMAG Pharmaceuticals (AMAG): Morgan Stanley starts AMAG at Equal Weight.

American National Bankshares (AMNB): AMNB is covered with a Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

Sally Beauty Holdings (SBH): Shares are launched at Neutral by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.


Wal-Mart (WMT): At the start of a big shopping week the retail giant, a key Dow component, is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Hershey Foods (HSY): At the start of an equally big eating week, Ticonderoga takes the confectionery king to Buy from Neutral and establishes a price objective of $66. The broker believes HSY should capture the majority of its announced 10% 2011 price increase during 2012, and they add that consensus revenues and EPS estimates are too low.

Morgan Stanley (MS): The financial firm is moved to Buy from Hold at brokerage Collins Stewart.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS): WestLB raises its RBS recommendation to Buy from Add.

Deutsche Bank (DB): Staying in the sector, the German giant gets upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

MeadWestvaco (MWV): BMO Capital moves its MWV rating Market Perform from Underperform.

International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF): Shares are now Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

NetApp (NTAP): NTAP is raised to Outperform from Sector Perform at FBN Securities.

Western Digital (WDC): Barclays boosts the tech stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Veeco Instruments (VECO): VECO is hoisted to Buy from Hold at ThinkEquity.

Fluor (FLR): BB&T Capital hikes the stock to Buy from Hold.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts REGN to Neutral from Underperform.

Alliant Energy (LNT): LNT is upgraded to Buy from Hold with Wunderlich, which takes its target price up to $45 from $40. With rising capital spending and declining capacity charges in 2014, they believe the company has an emerging 2014 earnings story that supports a higher valuation.

Bally Technologies (BYI): Deutsche Bank boosts BYI to Buy from Hold.

Hibbett Sports (HIBB): Shares are hoisted to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee.

Haynes International (HAYN): JPMorgan moves HAYN to Overweight from Neutral.

Hot Topic (HOTT): The retailer is juiced to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

Euronet Worldwide (EEFT): The electronic payment provider is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

Mack-Cali Realty (CLI): Shares get a Buy-from-Neutral increase at Goldman Sachs.


Research In Motion (RIMM): The BlackBerry maker is cut to Underperform from Market Perform at JMP Securities, sending shares slumping before the bell

Target (TGT): JP Morgan takes TGT to Neutral from Overweight.

Walgreen (WAG): WAG gets downgraded by an unusual 180 degrees, to Underweight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

REITs: Goldman gives ratings reductions to General Growth Properties (GGP), Simon Properties Group (SPG) (both now Neutral from Buy), and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO), slashed to to Sell from Neutral.

Great Plains Energy (GXP): GXP gets downgraded to Hold from Buy with a new $22 target at Wunderlich. They state the company now faces rate case risk and the need for equity in 2012.

Green Dot (GDOT): The stock is now Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

Liberty Starz (LSTZA): Barclays lowers LSTZA to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Royal Gold (RGLD): Shares are cut to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Destination Maternity (DEST): The stock is downgraded to In Line from Outperform at Imperial Capital Research.


No positions in stocks mentioned.
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