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Upgrades & Downgrades: Google Gets Good News


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

European contagion concerns and the failure of a Congressional supercommittee here at home sent stocks slumping, with the S&P 500 Index falling 4.69% in four sessions for its worst Thanksgiving week since 1932. (That dreadful year, incidentally, the Dow Average touched a Great Depression trough of 41.22 and American unemployment stood at 23.6%; if the fourth Thursday in November teaches us anything, it's to be grateful for small mercies. Even in these tortured times we have it infinitely easier than the World War II generation ever did.) An absolutely awful German bund auction indicates the continent's woes are now impacting even the strongest, suggesting Europe cannot continue to so sanguinely say let-them-eat-bundt-cake in the face of economic Armageddon.

The Sex and the City apartment where Carrie Bradshaw's costly Manolo Blahniks once kicked back went for $9 million; how the Spanish shoemaker's native country could use that kind of cash. Hungary - birthplace of billionaires, by George Soros and homeland of escape artist extraordinaire Harry Houdini - was unable to wriggle free of a financial reckoning and saw its credit rating cut to junk. And Republican candidates for president debated how best to keep immigrants from Mexico (4.5% GDP and 4.8% unemployment) from attempting to enter America (2% GDP and 9.0% unemployment). No top-tier corporate earnings out today, but at 10:00 a.m. Eastern analysts expect October new home sales to come in essentially unchanged.


Avalon Rare Metals (AVL): Citigroup starts the small cap stock at a Buy.

PetSmart (PETM): Shares are begun with a Buy rating and $57 price objective at Needham, which predicts further market share increases and upside potential of about 25% from current levels.

Moneygram (MGI): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch begins MGI at a Buy while Wells Fargo assigns it an Outperform.

Green Dot (GDOT): Shares are covered with an Outperform at Keefe Bruyette.

NetSpend (NTSP): NTSP is a new Outperform, also at Keefe Bruyette.


Verizon (VZ): The Dow component gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at UBS.

Netflix (NFLX): Shares are now Neutral from Negative with an objective of $60 at Susquehanna, sending the stock up before the bell. See also Netflix: Fool Me Seven Times, Shame on Me.

Google (GOOG): Citigroup lifts the Internet search giant to Buy from Neutral and sets it a price objective of $680. A more attractive valuation is cited, sending shares up sharply ahead of the opening bell.

Gilead Sciences (GILD): GILD gets added to Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs.

Foot Locker (FL): UBS lifts FL to Buy from Neutral.

Electronic Arts (ERTS): The video game stock gets a Buy-from-Neutral increase at Citi.

Fossil (FOSL): The Benchmark Company boosts FOSL on account of a more attractive valuation.

Potash (POT): The chemicals outfit is upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at Scotia. (CRM): Shares are now Buy from Hold with a $125 target price at Needham, which says this Wednesday's eagerly anticipated CloudForce event could act as a catalyst.

Whole Foods (WFM): The upscale grocery giant gets increased o Buy from Neutral at Northcoast.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN): The casino company is upgraded to Buy from Hold with a $145 target at Keybanc, which says the critical Macau gaming market continues its robust trends and Las Vegas is showing signs of recovery.

T. Rowe Price (TROW): Ticonderoga takes TROW to Buy from Neutral and sets a price target of $57. The stock should benefit from both better than expected client income flows and more share buybacks.

Fluor (FLR): Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation to Outperform from Neutral with a $70 target price. The broker believes catalysts include emerging backlog trends and healthy balance sheets.

Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA): Shares are now Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

Banco Santander-Chile (SAN): The Santiago-based financial firm is hoisted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Unum Group (UNM): The insurer gets added to Citi's Top Picks Live list.

Genworth Financial (GNW): Staying in the sector, shares of GNW are up sharply in pre-market trading today after getting upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citi.

Coinstar (CSTR): The stock is now Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

BRE Properties (BRE): The REIT is raised to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.


American Express (AXP): The Dow member is moved to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Citigroup (C): Morgan Stanley cuts the stock to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Research In Motion (RIMM): Sterne Agee reduces its rating on the beleaguered BlackBerry maker to Neutral from Buy.

Ericsson (ERIC): The Swedish telecom titan is taken to Hold from Buy at Société Générale.

MetLife (MET): Shares are pulled from Citi's list of Top Picks Live.

Kellogg (K): The Corn Flakes maker is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Financial stocks: Bank of New York Mellon (BK), Northern Trust (NTRS), and State Street (STT) are all downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Eaton Vance (EV): Credit Suisse cuts EV to Underperform from Neutral.

PharmAthene (PIP): The small cap stock is cut to Hold from Strong Buy at WBB Securities after a recent small pox legal ruling.

Mosaic (MOS): Canaccord Genuity moves the fertilizer firm to Hold from Buy.

Ryder System (R): The transportation stock is taken to Neutral from Buy at Suntrust.

Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM): Shares are cut to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity. Also read What Will December Look Like for Stocks and Gold?


No positions in stocks mentioned.
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