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Upgrades & Downgrades: Analyst Goes Apple Picking


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


Papandreou's search for a sugar daddy appears to be paying off. Increased optimism over a Greek debt deal sent stocks higher for a third straight session, led by materials, even if the market gave up much of its gains late on. The newly married couple who shrewdly took advantage of Monday's mauling in copper to a 14-month low by stealing wire to subsidize their wedding hopefully also had stock options in Zale (ZLC), the wedding ring retailer surging some 23.30% yesterday. President Obama wants millionaires to pay more in taxes than plumbers but the unfortunate occupant of an exploding toilet -- in Washington D.C. no less -- may beg to differ. Regardless, there was no plumbing problem with Swisher Hygiene (SWSH), the public restroom operator advancing 7.82%.

An analyst upgrade sent Potash (POT) shares up a tidy 2.32%. This doubtless delighting Cheech and Chong, who saw General Mills (GIS), the company they sponsor, come within a whisker of a fresh 52-week high. A new study said coffee may fight depression, good news for holders of Coffee Holding Co (JVA), crying into their cups after a fall of 15.57%. Other decliners on an up day included Walgreen (WAG), whose 6.27% slump made it the S&P

500′s poorest performer. (Still, thanks to its Duane Reade unit, its investors are the best dressed bag ladies around.) Elsewhere American Greetings (AM) fell 4.27% on earnings and rival Hallmark's layoff cards may soon be coming even to Goldman Sachs (GS), notwithstanding that they "rule the world." Today in economics, Fed head Ben Bernanke gives a speech on emerging markets at 5:00PM Eastern. On the earnings front Actuant (ATU), Darden Restaurants (DRI), Family Dollar (FDO), McCormick & Co (MKC), Mosaic (MOS), and Texas Industries (TXI) are all due to report results.


Apple Inc. (AAPL): AAPL is begun with a Buy at Janney Capital Markets, which establishes a price objective of $495 ahead of an imminent expected launch of the iPhone 5. Though Inc.'s (AMZN) proposed new tablet poses a "serious competitive threat", Apple shares are still "relatively inexpensive to its growth potential." Also read Apple Slashing iPad Holiday Orders by 25%, Says Report.

Cisco Systems (CSCO): The Dow component is a new Outperform at FBN Securities.

Industrial Stocks
: Caterpillar (CAT): CAT, also in the Dow, is a new Overweight at Barclays, which assigns identical ratings on Cummins (CMI), Deere (DE), and Eaton (ETN).

Sysco (SYY): The food service stock is initiated with an Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Diet Stocks
: Weight Watchers (WTW) ($71 target), Nutrisystem (NTRI) ($19), and Medifast (MEDI) ($27) are all begun with Buys at Auriga.

Tech Stocks
: JP Morgan has new Overweights on Lam Research (LRCX) and Novellus (NVLS). For related content, see One Tech Leader You Haven't Heard Of, but Need to Know.

Pharmaceutical Stocks: Canaccord Genuity gives Buys to Watson Pharmaceuticals (WPI), Medicis (MRX), Teva (TEVA), and Warner Chilcott (WCRX). It has Holds on Mylan (MYL), Perrigo (PRGO), and Impax (IPXL).
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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