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Upgrades & Downgrades: General Mills Starts the Day Off Right


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


Stocks surged, heavy gains in light trading coming amid signs of increased Franco-German cooperation to strengthen Europe's beleaguered banks. Volume was light with the bond market closed entirely in honor of Columbus, whose expedition was financed by a pawnshop, lest we forget in an era when many economies are having to sell off the family silver simply to stay afloat. The world's top two employers, Wal-Mart (WMT) and the Chinese army, moved closer to a stand off. Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG), whose CEO aims high in the medical marijuana market, ended 3.86% lower on a day the Dow gained 330.06.

International Business Machines (IBM) gained 2.32% to an all-time high, and Apple Inc (AAPL) rode record orders of its latest iPhone to end up 5.14%; maybe 1984 wasn't a zero sum game after all. And Sprint (S) slid 7.88% to lead all S&P 500 decliners after multiple analyst downgrades. Their shares died a little death even as Bank of America (BAC), sponsor of a Chicago marathon which preceded one of its participants giving birth by a scant seven hours, increased 6.44% in a torrid financial tape. This afternoon Alcoa (AA) unofficially ushers in third quarter earnings season when it reports results after the close, and announcements are also expected out of Audiovox (VOXX), Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (RMCF), Synergetics USA (SURG), and WD-40 Company (WDFC).


Food Stocks: Dow member McDonald's (MCD) is begun with a Buy at Credit Agricole, which assigns an identical rating on rival YUM! Brands (YUM) and starts an Underperform on Starbucks (SBUX).

Online Travel Stocks: (PCLN) is a new Equal Weight at Evercore, which establishes an Underweight on Orbitz (OWW) and an Overweight on Expedia (EXPE).

Zillow (Z): The recent real estate IPO is initiated with a Market Perform at Morgan Keegan, which sets a $26 price target. They say it is well positioned for robust growth as industry professionals shift their advertising efforts from offline to online channels.

Dow Chemical (DOW): DOW is initiated with a Buy and $39 price objective at Ticonderoga, which says it is the best-positioned company in the petrochemical industry to benefit from the glut of shale gas in the US. For related content, read Future of Fracking Hinges on Transparency.

SAP AG (SAP): Citigroup starts the German software giant an a Buy.


Aeropostale (ARO): The clothing company is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Netflix (NFLX): Never a dull moment for NFLX, now hoisted to Hold from Sell at Hudson Square Research. Also read Netflix Kills Qwikster.

General Mills
(GIS): The cereal stock gets a Buy-from-Neutral upgrade at Goldman Sachs, which also adds it to their list of Conviction Buys.

Sara Lee
(SLE): Shares are boosted to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Food Stocks
: Smithfield Foods (SFD) and Tyson Foods (TSN) are both taken to Buy from Underperform at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Valero (VLO): Barclays boosts Valero to Overweight from Equal Weight and takes its price target to $35 from $31.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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