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Upgrades & Downgrades: Intel's Swell Start


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.


With the Dow up 18.8% last year for its best annual percentage increase in six years, enriched investors must have felt they died and went to heaven in 2009, even if a Congressional quirk compelled many to hold off on actually expiring until three days ago. The S&P 500 shot up 23.5% and Nasdaq's 43.9% gain to 2269.15 was rip-roaring for all except Rip Van Winkle, recalling it stood at 5132.52 a decade ago. Apple (AAPL) stood out even in a strong tech tape, up 146.9% on the year, though no reminders are needed on this Newton's birthday that gravity always gets the last word.

If gains were good Stateside, Shanghai's 80% stock market surge in '09 put us to shame but caution could now be called for as China enters the Year of the Tiger, which given Woods' woes doesn't augur well. Amid all the year-ahead prognostications on Wall Street however, remember that anyone who can say with certainty what lies ahead is out of their tree. That said, in 10:00 AM Eastern economics the Institute for Supply Management's December manufacturing index is anticipated to tick up slightly while consensus calls for a fall in November construction spending. Audiovox (VOXX), Mosaic (MOS), and Texas Industries (TXI) are expected to announce earnings.


Tyco International (TYC): Cowen commences coverage on Tyco International at an Outperform.

Wireless Communications: Citigroup starts both NII Holdings (NIHD) and Millicom International (MICC) with Buys.

Impax Laboratories (IPXL): The stock is initiated at Overweight by JP Morgan, which establishes a price objective of $18.


Intel (INTC): The chipmaker is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral by Robert Baird, which takes its target to $26 to $24. The broker believes above-seasonal trends in PCs could continue. See also Two Ways to Play: Intel Reveals Smaller, More Efficient Chips.

United Parcel Service (UPS): Baird also boosts UPS to Outperform from Neutral, citing early signs of an improving freight economy. Its price objective increases $9 to $70.

Boeing (BA): Barclays upgrades Boeing to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Casino Stocks: Wynn Resorts (WYNN) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) are each up before the bell following Buy-from-Neutral boosts at UBS.

Morgan Stanley (MS): UBS also raises its rating on Morgan Stanley to Buy from Neutral.

Calpine (CPN): Jefferies raises its Calpine rating (Hold from Underperform) as the company's gas exposure merits a slight premium.

Refining Sector: Deutsche Bank's upgrade of the US refining sector sees increases for Tesoro (TSO), Frontier Oil (FTO) (both Buy from Hold), Valero (VLO), and Sunoco (SUN) (each now Hold from Sell). See also Two Ways to Play: Deutsche Thinks US Refiners Look Slick.

Stryker (SYK): The stock is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital Markets with a price objective of $59.

Ultra Petroleum (UPL): The oil stock gets a Buy-from-Neutral fillip from Goldman Sachs.

Banks: Janney Montgomery Scott upgrades PNC Financial (PNC) and Investors Bancorp (ISBC), each now Buy from Neutral.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS): BNP Paribas raises its recommendation on Royal Bank of Scotland to Outperform from Neutral.

UnitedHealth (UNH): The healthcare stock gets lifted to Buy from Hold at Citigroup. See also The Winning Stocks in the Senate Health-Care Deal.

Broadcom (BRCM): Wells Fargo moves Broadcom o Outperform from Market Perform.

Restaurant Stocks: Morton's Restaurant Group (MRT) (Neutral from Underweight) and McCormick & Schmick's (MSSR) (Overweight from Underweight) are each increased at Piper Jaffray.

Atmel (ATML): The stock is added to the Focus List by added to Kaufman Brothers on impressive demand across its industrial and automotive sectors.

Waste Management (WM): Waste Management gets a Buy-from-Hold boost at Wunderlich on a sustainable return to top-line growth.


Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY): Citigroup downgrades Bristol-Myers to Hold from Buy.

Boston Scientific (BSX): Also in healthcare, Boston Scientific gets a Neutral-from-Outperform downgrade at Robert Baird as its mature device markets will come under increasing price pressure due to healthcare reform.

Exxon Mobil (XOM): The oil company is now Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James. For more, see Exxon: Slick, Slimy, and Dangerous.

WellCare Health Plans (WCG): Oppenheimer cuts WellCare Health Plans (Perform from Outperform; $36 target maintained) as shares are trading at a high multiple relative to peers.

Energy Stocks: Macquarie lowers FPL Group (FPL), Progress Energy (PGN), Public Service (PEG), Exelon (EXC), and TECO Energy (TE), all to Neutral from Outperform.

Constellation Energy (CEG): Jefferies downgrades Constellation Energy to Hold from Buy ($37 target price) based on valuation.

Silicon Labs (SLAB): Kaufman Brothers cuts Silicon Labs to Hold from Buy as recent checks indicate a steady draw down of Korean handset inventories.

Hansen Medical (HNSN): JP Morgan takes Hansen Medical to Neutral from Overweight.

Infosys (INFY): The stock is now Underperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo.

Public Storage (PSA): The stock is downgraded to Hold from Buy ($82 target) at Argus, which says the share price is ahead of itself.

Expedia (EXPE): Expedia is now Neutral (from Outperform) at Credit Suisse, which also trims its target by $1 to $28 on a diminished 2010 earnings visibility.

Diamond Foods (DMND): The stock gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital Markets.

Brinker International (EAT): The restaurant operator is now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Chesapeake Energy (CHK): The stock gets a Neutral-from-Buy cut at Goldman.

Retailers: AnnTaylor (ANN) ($10 target), Ross Stores (ROST) ($37), and TJX Cos (TJX) ($30) are all cut to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies.

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