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Upgrades & Downgrades: Question Marks Remain Over Guess


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

Stocks ended off earlier highs but still rose for the sixth time in seven sessions amid optimism Slovakia won't hold Europe's bailout plan hostage after all. The Dow briefly got itself back into the green for the year, this despite more iffy economic news. The Labor Department reported each job opening now attracts 4.6 of the unemployed. Those Real Housewives, ringers of yesterday's opening bell, evidently account for four of them but the identity of the remaining 0.6 is a mystery. Wall Street's pink slip is showing but Liz Claiborne (LIZ), owner of Juicy Couture and its hot pink pants jumped 34.12% to top the NYSE. 3M Company (MMM), whose yellow paper slips have recently payed their own tribute to Jobs, advanced 2.54%. Elsewhere Olympic Steel continued a good week for the metal, if not Greece itself, with a gain of 5.29%.

Harrisburg Pennsylvania, birthplace of Newt Gingrich -- who has actually balanced a Federal budget in living memory -- declared bankruptcy. Goldman Sachs (GS), accused by the Occupy Wall Street crowd of a heartless let-them-eat-cake attitude, showed its sense of humor by starting Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) with a Sell. Being born romantics, they also upgraded owner IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI), whose new board member Chelsea Clinton found true love with a husband who once worked at the bank. Demonstrators, armed with photocopied flyers, marched against JP Morgan (JPM), whose top-ranked research responded by downgrading Xerox (XRX). Today's earnings are expected to include Cantel Medical (CMN), Fairchild Semiconductor (FCS), Fastenal (FAST), Google (GOOG), J.B. Hunt Transport Services (JBHT), Lindsay Corp (LNN), Safeway (SWY), and Winnebago Industries (WGO).


Guess? (GES): The clothing company is a new Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Armstrong World Industries
(AWI): AWI is assigned an Overweight at Barclays.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
(FCX): The commodity company is begun with a Buy at BB&T Capital. For related content, see Gold, Silver, and Stock Prices at Their Tipping Points.

York Water
(YORW): The stock is a new Neutral at boutique brokerage firm Boenning & Scattergood. While near-term growth will be driven by infrastructure investment, there are a lack of other catalysts to drive multiple expansion.

Tesoro Logistics
LP (TLLP): TLLP is begun with a Buy at Wunderlich, which assigns it a price objective of $27.50.

Johnson Controls
(JCI): The stock is resumed with a Buy and $40 target price at Needham.

(VOLC): VOLC gets picked up with a Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Akzo Nobel N.V.
: The pharma firm is initiated with an Underperform at Credit Suisse.

: Barclays begins Overweights on Lennar (LEN), Pulte Group (PHM), and Toll Brothers (TOL).

Grupo Televisa
(TV): The Mexican media outfit is established at an Underweight by Barclays.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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