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Upgrades & Downgrades: Boeing Set to Fly High?


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

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Undaunted by the Dow's worst Thanksgiving week since 1942, consumers went on a Black Friday buying binge, blockbuster retail sales sending stocks surging to their best gains in almost a month. The S&P 500 Index snapped a seven-day slump in some style after Americans spent $52.4 billion in malls and on modems over the weekend, a 16% increase over year-ago levels. While good gains on low trading volume must always be taken with a pinch of salt - Big Board activity failed to trouble a billion shares - such robust numbers are nothing to be sneezed at, pepper spray notwithstanding. In an eagerly anticipated battle of tents between campers and capitalists, there was clearly only one winner. The high end again appeared to outperform. Granted, we will no longer go shopping at Barneys - much to Wall Street's relief - but Tiffany (TIF) advanced 5.93% in a strong luxury sector. Macy's (M) moved up 4.72% and, elsewhere on 34th Street, Madison Square Garden (MSG) rode an analyst upgrade and basketball's imminent return to gain 10.13% in posting its best intra-day performance since February 2010. The Nasdaq-traded outfit is partying like it's 2000, when the index reached its all time high. And who can blame them, with a nearby Herald Square newsstand perpetually stuck in a Y2K time warp, complete with Shaq and Kobe looking out at us from an 11-year old cover?

Victoria's Secret owner Limited Brands (LTD) rose 3.94%. An impressive fact, for figures don't lie, as we shall surely see in tonight's fashion show. Elsewhere (AMZN) advanced 6.44% on record sales of its Kindle Fire and General Motors (GM) ended up 1.97% no thanks to a fire of its own making. Park Avenue-based asset management outfit CIFC Corp (DFR) surged 37.91% and - some guys really do have all the luck - a trio of asset managers from the nation's richest state won a $254 million Powerball jackpot. There was joy for Joy Global (JOYG), a 7.54% gainer, and grief for Greif (GEF), whose fall of 5.11% lead all Russell 1000 losers. And PetSmart (PETM) perked up 3.11% on a bullish analyst initiation on a day a cartoon in The New Yorker made clear our furry friends really do rule the roost in most households. This morning in economics, analysts expect an increase in November consumer confidence at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Standout earnings on either side of the Atlantic include National Bank of Greece (NBG) and Tiffany (TIF).


Boeing (BA): Shares are initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee, which sets an $82 price objective on the Dow member.

DuPont (DD): The Dow component is a new Neutral at UBS.

United Technologies (UTX): The Otis elevator maker, also in the Blue Chip index, is similarly resumed with a Buy at Sterne Agee.

Qualcomm (QCOM): Scotia starts the tech stock at Outperform.

Industrial stocks: Sterne Agee has a Buy recommendation and $69 price target on Honeywell (HON) and assigns a new Neutral on Rockwell Collins (COL).

Sagent Pharmaceuticals (SGNT): Shares are begun with a Buy and $25 price target at Collins Stewart, which cites better than expected new product launches and improving gross margins.

Technology stocks: Deutsche Bank has a Hold on Applied Materials (AMAT) ($10 target price), KLA-Tencor (KLAC) ($38), Novellus Systems (NVLS) ($33), and Amkor Technology (AMKR) ($4.) It launches Buys on both Lam Research (LRCX) and Teradyne (TER) with respective price objectives of $45 and $17.

Oil Service stocks: Jefferies begins Buys on, among others, Baker Hughes (BHI), Halliburton (HAL), and Schlumberger (SLB).

Devon Energy (DVN): Robert W. Baird resumes Outperform rated coverage and assigns an $83 objective.

Vera Bradley Inc (VRA): The handbag maker is a new Neutral at JPMorgan.


Hewlett-Packard (HPQ): The Dow component gets upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.

Research In Motion (RIMM): Shares of the BlackBerry maker are trading higher ahead of the open after Sanford Bernstein boosted its rating to Market Perform from Underperform.

Ariba (ARBA): ARBA is increased to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer, which sets a $36 target. Catalysts include healthy deal metrics and record backlogs.

Idenix Pharmaceuticals (IDIX): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform by brokers William Blair.

Susquehanna Bank (SUSQ): Sterne Agee boosts the bank to Buy from Neutral.

United Natural Foods (UNFI): UNFI gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Meritor (MTOR): Morgan Stanley moves the small cap stock up by an unusual 180 degrees, to Overweight from Underweight.


Daimler AG (DDAIF): Deutsche Bank downgrades the luxury auto maker to Hold from Buy, sending shares lower in Frankfurt this morning. They say earnings risk has "dramatically increased."

Dillard's (DDS): The discount retailer is reduced to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee, sending shares lower before the bell.

Oil service sector: Nabors Industries (NBR), Patterson-UTI (PTEN), Pioneer Drilling (PDC), and Union Drilling (UDRL) are all taken to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Ternium S.A. (TX): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers TX to Neutral from Buy.

Zions Bancorp (ZION): Macquarie moves the regional bank to Neutral from Outperform.


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