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Upgrades & Downgrades: IAC/InterActiveCorp Finds Match Made in Heaven


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

Stocks ended mixed in continued light volume, markets digesting Monday's big gains amid uncertainty over a European bailout fund and the start of third quarter earnings season here at home. Central Garden (CENT) gained 4.19%, investors offering flowers on the fourth anniversary of the Dow's record high of 14,198.10. Harry Winston Diamond (HWD) rose 4.22% but Zsa Zsa Gabor, a nine-time recipient of its wedding rings, continues to convalesce. Occupy Wall Street was on the move, earnest not-for-profit types marching against non profits like Goldman Sachs (GS). A bad day for Lloyd Blankfein then, though as the son of a truck driver he can take some solace in a Nasdaq-leading 18.88% increase in shares of USA Truck Inc (USAK). Goldman's upgrade of General Mills (GIS) sent the food firm up 1.55% to a new 52-week high, which should please those demonstrators who suggest hunger can be cured by eating a banker. (The protesters actually appear to be quite plump enough as it is.)

And Athenian shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, who once weighed in on opera by suggesting it was nothing but a bunch of "Italian waiters shouting risotto recipes at each other", may want to reconsider from upon high. Especially after, with his increasingly indebted homeland crying out for a few billion tenners, Manhattan's Met just managed to balance its budget for first time in seven years. Today in economics, minutes to the FOMC's Sept.20-21 meeting are released at 2:00PM Eastern. Third quarter earnings season -- unofficially underway with Alcoa's (AA) announcement yesterday afternoon -- continues with Adtran (ADTN), Art's-Way Manufacturing (ARTW), Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK), Host Hotels & Resorts (HST), Infosys (INFY), Oil-Dri Corp. of America (ODC), and PepsiCo (PEP), all due to report results.


Semiconductor Stocks: RBC Capital resumes Outperforms on Dow member Intel (INTC), along with Analog Devices (ADI), Cypress Semiconductor (CY), Marvell Technology (MRVL), and Texas Instruments (TXN). It starts Sector Perfoms on Altera (ALTR), Broadcom (BRCM), and Freescale (FSL), and names Sandisk (SNDK) a Top Pick.

Tobacco Stocks
: Bank of America-Merrill Lynch launches Buys on Altria (MO) and Philip Morris (PM) and assigns new Neutrals on Reynolds American (RAI) and Lorillard (LO).

AMC Networks
(AMCX): Morgan Stanley starts an Underweight on AMCX.

Restaurant Stocks
: Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) is started with a Sell at Goldman Sachs, which has new Neutrals on DineEquity (DIN), Brinker International (EAT), and PF Chang's (PFCB).
(PCLN): The online travel outfit is begun with a Buy at Jefferies, with establishes a price objective of $580.

Acuity Brands
(AYI): AYI is a new Hold at Jefferies, whose target price is $38.

Align Technology
(ALGN): The stock is a new Neutral at Credit Suisse.

GT Advanced Technologies
(GTAT): GTAT gets picked up at an Underperform at Jefferies.

Bank Stocks
: Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has new Neutrals on SunTrust Banks (STI) and BB&T Corp (BBT). It begins Buys on U.S. Bancorp (USB), PNC Financial Services (PNC), and Wells Fargo (WFC).

First Republic Bank
(FRC): Staying in the sector, FRC is initiated with a Buy at Cantor Fitzgerald.

Utility Stocks
: Calpine (CPN) is initiated with a Buy at ISI Group, which has a Hold on rival Dynegy (DYN).
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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