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Upgrades & Downgrades: Time Warner to Tick Up?


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Sugar surged almost 10 percent last month but investing in equities left a tart taste in the mouth of many as the Dow endured a third straight down January and the S&P 500 wrapped up its worst four-week performance in almost a year. Market jitters were enough for bond king Bill Gross to move to cash. Johnny Cash. Federal officials shut five more banks, taking 2010's total to 14 and making one wonder why Men in Black would break into institutions so heavily in the red. In the week Apple (AAPL) unveiled its latest high tech gizmo the S&P 500's top performer was a flashback as Eastman Kodak (EK) climbed 38.8% on impressive earnings. What's next, the return of vinyl records?

Nancy Pelosi's plastic face was no match for Barbie's plastic body. As head of the House, California's congresswoman looked out onto a lukewarm State of the Union reception but Mattel's (MAT) marvel was Queen of the castle after its US fourth-quarter sales grew nine percent. If Ken is a cad, at least America's favorite princess isn't cadmium. In economics, January's ISM manufacturing Index and December construction spending are each out at 10:00AM. Earnings season resumes with Anadarko Petroleum (APC), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Gannett (GCI), Humana (HUM), Kraft (KFT), MicroStrategy (MSTR), NiSource (NI), and Plum Creek Timber (PCL) all announcing results.


Palm (PALM): The tech stock (Neutral) is among the wireless names initiated this morning at Merriman Curhan, which notes the latest iteration of the Pre and Pixi has revitalized the company.

Oracle (ORCL): Oracle is resumed with a Outperform and $30 target at Credit Suisse due to its leverage to a potential rebound in enterprise applications spending during 2010.

Blackstone Group (BX): Morgan Stanley assumes coverage on Blackstone Group at Overweight and assigns a price objective of $18.

American Dairy (ADY): Expecting mid-teens growth to return in 2011, Oppenheimer initiates American Dairy at Outperform with a price target of $28.

Church & Dwight (CHD): Barclays begins Church & Dwight (Equal-weight; $62 price objecive).

Centene (CNC): Bank of America/Merrill Lynch resumes coverage on Centene at a Neutral and sets a $23 target.


Time Warner (TWX): The media stock gets a Buy-from-Hold boost at Benchmark ($35 target) as the company has completed its transformation back to a well-capitalized entertainment pure-play.

Viacom (VIA): Staying in the sector, Viacom is now Buy from Hold at Benchmark, which takes its target to $38 from $33. The broker believes Viacom's content focus with heavy media network exposure bodes well for steadily recovering growth in 2010 as advertising demand rebounds.

Baidu (BIDU): Credit Suisse upgrades Baidu, now Neutral from Underperform, believing its market share is likely to stabilize at 45-47% in 2010. See also Why Baidu Should Be on Your Radar.

Ingram Micro (IM): The stock is increased to Buy from Hold with a $21 target at Needham based on improved execution, lower costs, and an imminent recovery in IT spending.

Autoliv (ALV): The stock is upped to Buy from Hold with an increased $55 price objective at Deutsche Bank, citing valuation allied to organic growth and margin potential.

Avery Dennison (AVY): AVY is now Neutral from Sell at UBS.

SL Green Realty (SLG): UBS also raises its SL Green Realty rating (Buy from Neutral).

Noble Corp (NE): The stock gets an Outperform-from-Market Perform upgrade out of FBR Capital, which takes its target up $5 to $50, after the firm's good quarter.

Airgas (ARG): Airgas is boosted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank, which says Friday's 10% share-price plunge was excessive.

Sanofi-Aventis (SNY): The pharmaceutical stock gets raised to Outperform from Neutral by BNP Paribas. For related content, see Why Pharma Is Pushing Its Drug Pushers Out.

Eastman Chemical (EMN): JP Morgan raises its Eastman Chemical rating to Overweight from Neutral and takes its target up $10 to $70.

Hubbell (HUB-B): Citing margin expansion, Oppenheimer increases Hubbell to Outperform from Perform.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): Oppenheimer also increases Vertex Pharmaeuticals to Outperform from Perform on an expectation of positive dataflow from the phase III telaprevir program.

REITs: Boston Properties (BXP), ProLogis (PLG), and Taubman Centers (TCO) are among the REITs boosted to Neutral from Sell by UBS.

Research In Motion (RIMM): RIMM is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Standpoint Research with an $80 price objective. The broker notes RIMM added more than 3.5 million new subscribers in its most recent quarter


Macy's (M): Deutsche Bank downgrades Macy's to Hold from Buy due to an uninspiring decentralization initiative.

Arch Coal (ACI): The mining stock gets cut to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital, with a $22 target.

L-1 Identity Solutions (ID): JP Morgan downgrades L-1 Identity Solutions to Underweight from Neutral and takes its target to $8 from $8.50.

Lubrizol (LZ): Citigroup cuts Lubrizol (Sell from Hold).

First Horizon (FHN): Morgan Stanley moves First Horizon to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Energy Stocks: Barclays downgrades Mirant (MIR) (Underweight from Equal-Weight), FirstEnergy (FE) (Equal-Weight from Overweight) and RRI Energy (RRI) (Equal-weight from Overweight).
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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