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Upgrades & Downgrades: Time Warner Ticking Along Nicely


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


Stocks rose again, the Dow's third straight triple-digit advance sending the blue chip index back above 11,000 as September retail same store sales surpassed expectations and European fears continued to abate. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner payed his own homage to the upcoming 100th anniversary of the loss of the "unsinkable" Titanic by adding to the pantheon of ill advised pronouncements, saying there is "absolutely" no chance of another Lehman. Such statements sent financials surging, led by Bank of America's (BAC) advance of 8.84%. (As best we can guess, its quotes are delayed by six days.) Twenty-four hours after Breakfast at Tiffany's tried a 50th anniversary ring on for size, there was no free lunch for shareholders of Tiffany (TIF) rival Saks (SKS) after a 5.82% increase.

Hair-care titan Helen of Troy (HELE) fell 5.59% after the maker of Vidal Sassoon products missed earnings expectations for Q2, but they still had a better day than that barber shot in buttocks. Portugal, fresh from its central bank warning that "significant" additional measures must be implemented to meet the budget goals, this morning saw Moody's downgrade a dozen of its banks. Still, if the country has half the confidence of its most famous soccer star, their self-esteem shouldn't take too much of a hit. This morning in economics, analysts expect a slight slippage in August wholesale inventories at 10:00AM Eastern, and Material Sciences (MASC) reports results on an otherwise quiet day for corporate earnings.


Media & Entertainment: JP Morgan rolls out Overweight coverage on key Dow component Walt Disney (DIS), Time Warner (TWX), and Viacom (VIA-B). It has a new Neutral on Discovery Communications (DISCA).

: Southwest Airlines (LUV) is a new Neutral at Sterne Agee, which assigns it a price objective of $16. US Airways Group (LCC) is also a Neutral with a $12 target. Its Buys are JetBlue Airways (JBLU) ($10), AMR Corp (AMR) ($6), Delta Air Lines (DAL) ($18), and newly merged United Continental Holdings (UAL) ($38).

Video Game Stocks: Activision Blizzard (ATVI) is initiated with a Outperform and $15 target at brokers Robert W. Baird, which expects strong sales of Call of Duty to help offset declines in World of Warcraft. Gamestop (GME) is an Outperform, and Neutrals are assigned on Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO).

Business Services: New Holds at Deutsche Bank include Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Fiserv (FISV), Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), Paychex (PAYX), VeriFone Systems (PAY), and Western Union (WU). It begins Buys on Accenture (ACN), Global Payments (GPN), and Green Dot (GDOT).

Credit Card Companies
: Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) are both begun with a Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Solar Sector
: Bank of America-Merrill Lynch launches on the space, beginning Yingli Green Energy (YGE) with a Buy and assigning Underperforms on LDK Solar (LDK), JA Solar (JASO), and SunPower (SPWRA).

Finisar (FNSR): FNSR is a new Outperform at Morgan Keegan.

(NLSN): NLSN is initiated with an Outperform at Raymond James.

(WIT): The Indian outsourcer is a new Underweight at Barclays.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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