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Upgrades & Downgrades: Life's Sweet for Nestle


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


Shares rose for a third straight session, helped by robust manufacturing data in China, better news out of Europe, and another merger Monday here at home. Strong corporate earnings, especially from Caterpillar (CAT), also boosted bourses, with the S&P 500 Index continuing to close in on its best monthly gain for a generation. Among standout stocks VF Corp (VFC), maker of those JanSport backpacks so beloved of the Wall Street occupiers, jumped 3.24% to a new 52-week peak; pity the protesters abhor anything as grubby as making money. As a study showed New York City is home to more delinquent taxpayers than anywhere else in the nation, a couple of clothing companies that call the Big Apple home handed investors huge capital gains. Broadway-based Iconix Brand Group (ICON), owner of Madonna's Material Girl line, gained 9.59%; sister, can you spare a dime? And Bronx born Ralph Lifshitz, who wisely changed his name to Ralph Lauren (RL), saw his stock rise 4.52% to an all-time high. Turns out J-Lo, who also hails from the borough and has changed nothing but "the rocks that I got," wasn't crying tears of sadness the other day - she was simply overwhelmed with joy that the stock options she shares with her fellow hometown hero are so much in the money.

Kimberly-Clark Corp (KMB) cried into its Kleenex after a fall of 4.59% propped up the S&P 500 on an otherwise ebullient day in equities. The consumer-products powerhouse just released a survey showing public mailboxes are among the filthiest objects on Earth so it's just as well that the check from the Postal Service will have to wait. And yesterday was the sixth anniversary of Ben Bernanke bring nominated as Fed head, back when markets were still mourning the retirement of his 'maestro' predecessor. Alas the intervening years have not been kind to Alan Greenspan. Today in economics, consensus calls for a slight increase in October consumer confidence at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Peak week for third-quarter earnings rolls on with (AMZN), Broadcom (BRCM), Coach Inc (COH), Delta Air Lines (DAL), Deutsche Bank (DB), DuPont (DD), 3M Co. (MMM), RadioShack (RSH), Sherwin-Williams (SHW), UBS AG (UBS), and Xerox (XRX) all due to report results.


Consumer stocks: Nike (NKE) is a new Buy ($110 target price) at Auriga, which assigns an identical rating on Quiksilver (ZQK) and has a Hold on Collective Brands (PSS).

Consumer stocks: Limited (LTD), which hit an all-time high yesterday, Signet Jewelers (SIG), and diamond ring king Zale (ZLC) are all new Neutrals at Northcoast.

Xilinx (XLNX): Piper Jaffray picks up the tech stock with an Overweight rating and assigns it a price objective of $40.

Liberty Media (LINTA): LINTA is named a long Research Tactical Idea at Morgan Stanley.


Lowe's (LOW): Shares of the home improvement retailer are rising ahead of the open after being boosted to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital.

Nestlé: The Swiss confectionery company is upgraded to Buy from Hold at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Darden Restaurants (DRI): The Olive Garden owner is added to the Top Picks Live list at Citigroup. For related content, see McDonald's Hits an All-Time High as Steakhouse Chains Bleed Out.

Duke Realty (DRE): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch raises its rating on the REIT to Neutral from Underperform.

California Water (CWT): The utility is now Buy from Neutral at Janney Montgomery Scott.

JA Solar (JASO): JASO gets increased to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

St. Jude Medical (STJ): Mizuho moves the medical device maker to Buy from Neutral.

PetroChina (PTR): PTR gets a Neutral-from-Sell upgrade at Goldman Sachs.

Willis Group (WSH): The London-based insurance firm is upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.


AT&T (T): The key Dow component is cut to Market Perform from Outperform by Sanford Bernstein.

Netflix (NFLX): Ouch. NFLX, down more than 35% in pre-market action after earnings, is now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan, Neutral from Buy at Citigroup, Sell from Neutral at Janney Montgomery Scott, Negative from Neutral at Susquehanna, and Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Vodafone PLC (VOD): The British based telecom titan is now Neutral from Outperform by BNP Paribas.

Hain Celestial (HAIN): HAIN is removed from Citi's Top Picks Live list.

Swisscom AG: Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

ReneSola (SOL): Piper Jaffray reduces its rating to Neutral from Overweight.

Alternative energy: Yingli Green Energy (YGE), Suntech Power (STP) and Trina Solar (TSL) are all taken to Neutral from Buy at Nomura.

Healthways (HWAY): HWAY is cut to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

Healthspring (HS): The stock is moved to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo, as it is no longer trading on fundamentals following the acquisition offer by Cigna (CI).

Hub Group (HUBG): Wells Fargo moves HUBG to Market Perform from Outperform.

Central European Distribution (CEDC): The New Jersey-based alcohol outfit is cut to Underperform from Neutral by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

PPD Inc. (PPDI): Jefferies downgrades the health-care company to Hold from Buy.

Warnaco Group (WRC): The intimate apparel outfit, whose brands include Calvin Klein and Speedo, is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Aaron's (AAN): AAN is cut to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital.

Armstrong World Industries (AWI): The flooring products maker gets moved to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital.

Banco Santander-Chile (SAN): The Latin American financial firm is lowered to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Health Care REIT (HCN): Shares are downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital.

3M Co (MMM): The Dow member, out with disappointing earnings this morning, is downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee.

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