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Upgrades & Downgrades: Expedia Is Going Places


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


The PIIGS are suddenly doing their best to save the bull but Wall Street seems to be welcoming back the bear. Dow Industrials dropped 6.41%, their worst weekly showing since the awful October of '08 coming amid European contagion concerns and "significant" downside risks to our own economy. So said the Fed, fresh from launching its $400 billion 'operation twist'. Named apparently after an iconic game whose participants would probably do a better job of finessing our financial system than the current crowd, and whose introduction in 1966 ominously coincided with a secular bear market which would not end until 1982. Operation Oliver Twist actually better describes a Dickensian world where one-third of little ones in the Big Apple live in poverty. For others, penury was relative, with Goldman Sachs (GS) dropping below $100 a share and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) heading to the wrong side of $100,000. The latter's leader was among those asked to pay more in taxes under President Obama's proposed $1.5 trillion in 'revenue enhancements'. Uncle Sam may be better advised to revive this zombie economy by going after Nick Cage, already millions in arrears of course and now shown to have been earning a decent income for 140 years.

At 62, which is when they retire in France, a long distance swimmer attempted to go from Cuba to Florida. This as gold, the entire world wide supply of which could comfortably fit into 3.27 swimming pools, nosedived 9.6% as commodities cratered, the yellow metal enduring its steepest sell-off since 1983. Ongoing Wall Street protests against a TARP culture saw police tear down tarps in lower Manhattan, though the anti capitalist demonstrators -- conspicuous by their love of Apple (AAPL) laptops -- could take comfort in shares of the cult Cupertino company advancing to an all time high. And Moneyball, a movie about how lower payrolls can triumph against improbable odds, arrived on our screens in the same week baseball's richest team made the playoffs for the fifteenth time in sixteen years. Today in economics, analysts expect August new home sales to show a decline at 10:00AM Eastern. On the earnings front Actuant (ATU), Cal-Maine Foods (CLM), Ferrellgas Partners (FGP), and Thor Industries (THO) are all due to report results.


Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR): The shares are begun with a Buy at Argus, which assigns it a price objective of $130. The company continues to post rapid growth, and management expects its single-serve K-cups to garner as much as 20% of home coffee sales over the next five years.

Roadrunner Transportation (RRTS): BB&T Capital reinstates Buy rated coverage on RRTS.

Itron (ITRI): Morgan Stanley starts ITIR at an Overweight.

Green Plains Renewable Energy
(GPRE): GPRE is a new Neutral at Credit Suisse.


United Technologies (UTX): The Dow component, maker of Otis elevators among much else, is lifted to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

(NFLX): NFLX shares, badly battered last week, are up sharply ahead of the opening bell after being boosted to Buy from Neutral by Merriman. See also What's Next for Netflix Besides a Bounce?

(ALKS): Jefferies juices its ALKS rating to Buy from Hold.

Advanced Micro Devices
(AMD): The semiconductor stock is now Buy from Neutral at UBS.

(EXPE): The online travel firm is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray, which sets a $33 target price, ahead of its TripAdvisor spin off. The broker cites an encouraging "trajectory of international bookings growth".

Occidental Petroleum
(OXY): OXY is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Citigroup. Also read What Low Oil Prices Really Mean.

Tortoise Energy Infrastructure
(TYG): Shares are taken to Outperform from Perform with a $41 target at brokers Robert W. Baird.

Energy Stocks
: NV Energy (NVE) is increased to Buy from Neutral at Goldman, which also adds Great Plains Energy (GXP) to its Conviction Buy List.

(CX): The Mexican cement giant is boosted to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Ternium S.A.
(TX): TX is taken to Buy from Neutral at Goldman.

First Horizon
(FHN): The stock is moved to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Foster Wheeler
(FWLT): FWLT is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital.

PNM Resources
(PNM): PNM is raised by both Wells Fargo (Outperform from Market Perform) and Suntrust (Buy from Neutral).

First Solar
(FSLR): The stock gets moved by Maxim Group to Hold from Sell as a "steep decline since July balances risk/reward."

(NVLS): NVLS is now Neutral from Negative at Susquehanna.

Estee Lauder
(EL): The cosmetics company is lifted to Buy from Hold with a $113 target price at Stifel Nicolaus.

Herman Miller
(MLHR): The furniture firm is raised to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James.


European Food Stocks: Nestle and Danone are both downgraded to Buy from Hold at ING Group.

First Cash Financial
(FCFS): FCFS is now Underperform from Neutral at Sterne Agee.

El Paso Electric
(EE): The utility gets cut to Neutral from Buy at Goldman, which also pulls the name from its list of Conviction Buys.

People's United Financial
(PBCT): Shares are downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

(GR): The acquisition candidate gets moved to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Cisco Systems
(CSCO): The Dow component is taken to Neutral from Buy at brokerage firm Miller Tabak.

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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