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Upgrades & Downgrades: Lowe's Feeling Low


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Stocks surged, pushing the S&P 500 past the psychologically significant 1100 level as its best two-day performance since October enriched everyone from Rupert (Murdoch's News Corp (NWS) rose 5.05% in extended trading) to Rudolph (Rudolph Technologies (RTEC) which skyrocketed 17.58%). Alas successive triple digit gains for the Dow did nothing for the tax man's cost basis; Jackson Hewitt (JTX) aims for a change of luck -- if not a change of sex -- after falling 0.72% even in an up market. Toyota (TM) was lambasted by Transportation Secretary LaHood, the most aptly named cabinet official since Margaret Spellings of Education; clearly the automaker can't catch a break.

Sandra won an Oscar nod for The Blind Side and an interest rate Cassandra was blindsided by the Bank of Australia. After surging 7.12% on takeover talk an entire Palm (PALM) proved profitable but a single finger cost its owner a small fortune. KFC parent Yum Brands (YUM) expects its earnings to be finger licking good when it reports results today, along with AOL (AOL), Black & Decker (BDK), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Comcast (CMCSA), Honda Motor (HMC), Polo Ralph Lauren (RL), Monster Worldwide (MWW), Pfizer (PFE), Time Warner (TWX), Visa (V), and Western Union (WU). In economics, expect January's ISM non-manufacturing index at 10:00 AM Eastern.


Hershey Foods (HSY): It isn't often Hershey Foods is seen as slimming but JP Morgan assigns it a rating of Underweight.

Gold Stocks: Deutsche Bank begins coverage of North American gold stocks including Newmont Mining (NEM) and Kinross Gold (KGC) (both Buys) and assigns Holds on Barrick Gold (ABX) and Goldcorp (GG). Overall the firm favors a defensive posture and name Newmont as its Top Pick in the sector. See also Two Ways to Play: Deutsche Begins Coverage on Gold.

ING Group (ING): The stock is initiated at Outperform by BNP Paribas.

Warner Chilcott (WCRX): The stock gets picked up with an Outperform and $33 price target at Oppenheimer, which sees meaningful upside from its transformational acquisition of P&G pharmaceuticals.

Mylan Labs (MYL): Oppenheimer initiates Mylan Labs at Outperform with a $24 target, citing the expanded reach of their ex-US generics business.

Boston Properties (BXP): Credit Suisse restarts Boston Properties (Neutral; $72 target), saying an increased premium relative to the sector will be difficult to attain until leasing costs in the office space lessen.

Barclays (BCS): The financial stock is begun at a Buy at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.


McDonald's (MCD): The fast food giant's shares are higher ahead of the open after getting added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs, which takes its target to $75 from $73.

UBS (UBS): Swiss shares of UBS are also up sharply this morning after JP Morgan boosted the bank to Overweight from Neutral, noting its attractive private banking business model.

Emerson Electric (EMR): JP Morgan increases Emerson Electric to Neutral from Underweight.

Kraft Foods (KFT): UBS upgrades Kraft Foods (Buy from Neutral).

United Parcel Services (UPS): UPS is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank, which takes its target up $3 to $70, after impressive earnings.

Charles Schwab (SCHW): The stock is now Buy from Neutral at Bank of America/Merrill.

Vail Resorts (MTN): Vail gets an Outperform-from-Market Perform upgrade at Wells Fargo.

Hersha Hospitality Trust (HT): REIT stock Hersha Hospitality fares better than sweet Hershey Foods, Keefe Bruyette upgrading it to Outperform from Market Perform. The price objective increases by $1.50 to $5.50 as exposure to hotels in New York City should drive earnings.

Raymond James (RJF): The financial stock is raised to Outperform from Market Perform (target taken to $32 from $27) by FBR Capital, to better incorporate the embedded operating leverage of the franchise.

Massey Energy (MEE): The stock gets moved to Hold from Sell at Citigroup.

Genzyme (GENZ): The pharmaceutical stock is increased to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

Johnson Controls (JCI): Goldman raises its Johnson Controls recommendation to Neutral from Sell.

Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ): The stock is added to the Conviction Buy list at Goldman.

Lexmark (LXK): The stock is upgraded to Buy from Hold with a $40 target price by Brean Murray.

Walmart (WMT): Walmart gets a Buy-from Hold boost at Stifel Nicolaus, which sets a target of $62. With its unmatched scale the retailer fits into Stifel's "slow consumer 2010-2019 decade" thesis and should benefit as consumers rebuild balance sheets.


Lowe's (LOW): The home improvement retailer gets a Neutral-from-Buy downgrade at Goldman Sachs.

CH Robinson (CHRW): The stock is cut to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo.

CVS Caremark (CVS): CVS gets removed from the Conviction Buy list at Goldman.

Ameren (AEE): The stock is added to added to the Conviction Sell list at Goldman.
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