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Upgrades & Downgrades: Dialing Down Sirius XM Radio


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


In football, it's 2008 all over again. Financial markets? Mercifully, not so much. That annus horribilis of TARP and too big to fail, Bear Stearns going belly up and Lehman Brothers down for the count is now but a nasty memory. An encouraging start to earnings season and better than expected initial unemployment claims helped stocks score their third straight week of gains, Dow Industrials (^DJI) advancing 2.40% to stand at its highest level since last July. The S&P 500 Index (^GSPC) meanwhile rose all four sessions and is off to its best start to a year since 1997. (How Eastman Kodak (EK), whose stock hit an all-time high of $94.75 that February, wishes it could turn back the clock a decade and a half to those halcyon days. This even as Sears (SHLD), its fellow Nifty Fifty member of yesteryear - must be true, I read it on Wikipedia - surged 46% to take its 2012 increase to a market-leading 54%.) Bank of America (BAC), January's best performing blue chip, jumped 7.0% amid solid earnings and stands at $7.07. The firm disclosed its financial results within twenty-four hours of IKEA, although shareholders of its Merrill Lynch unit - whose stock traded at $97.53 five years ago this week - could be forgiven for failing to fully enjoy the irony.

Rival Goldman Sachs (GS) gave a gracious nod to the 99% by gaining 9.9%. Its math was off by a decimal point of course but in this the 'vampire squid' was presumably just showing us how much they have in common with the heartland. Priceline's (PCLN) spokesman fell off a cliff but his stock options certainly didn't, the online travel outfit advancing 7.4%. The Montreal native thus has no need to turn to the, ahem, calming properties of yoga - which is just as well in a week when Canada's own Lululemon Athletica (LULU) lost 3.0%, eh? Elsewhere as the world prepares to mark a century of the ship they won't let freaking sink already, Carnival Corp (CCL) cratered 13.65% in a single session; in the current climate even QE2, controversially being considered for an expensive QE3, should surely stay away from the high seas. And Iran's currency tumbled to its lowest ever but at least its single men no longer need worry about spending their increasingly worthless money on a famously high maintenance blonde. No top-tier economic data out today, but peak week for fourth quarter earnings kicks off with CSX Corp (CSX), Halliburton (HAL), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Packaging Corp of America (PKG), Texas Instruments (TXN), VMware (VMW), and Western Digital (WDC) all due to report results.


Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A): The petroleum giant gets picked up with a Buy at ING Group.

Jive Software (JIVE): Goldman Sachs starts the stock at a Neutral while Wells Fargo has a similarly unenthusiastic Market Perform. Citigroup (Buy), Morgan Stanley (Overweight), BMO Capital (Overweight) and BMO Capital (Overweight) are more bullish. The latter, which also establishes a $20 price target, says JIVE should be able to sustain its valuation multiple provided it achieves billings growth at or above a 35%-40% range, which it believes the company is capable of.

Industrials/basic materials: JP Morgan resumes RTI International Metals (RTI) at an Underweight and assigns a Neutral on Titanium Metals (TIE).


Research In Motion (RIMM): The BlackBerry maker, in the news again this morning with a management reshuffle, is raised to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank.

Daimler AG: Macquarie moves the car maker to Outperform from Neutral.

SABMiller plc: Citigroup boosts the British brewer to Buy from Neutral.

Borg Warner (BWA): Shares are upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Bank of Kentucky (BKFY): Brokerage Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation on the regional bank to Outperform from Neutral and also increases its price objective to $27 from $24. With TARP having been repaid in the fourth quarter, they believe a dividend increase over the current 2.6% payout is possible.

Capella Education (CPLA): CPLA is moved to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Janus Capital (JNUS): JP Morgan juices its JNUS rating to Neutral from Underperform.

NuVasive (NUVA): The stock is now Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

Waters Corp (WAT): Shares are now Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Overseas Shipholding (OSG): OSG gets a Hold-from-Sell hoist at Cantor Fitzgerald.


Procter & Gamble (PG): The Dow component gets downgraded for the second time in two trading sessions, this time to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus. The research firm also removes it from their Income List due to valuation concerns, sending shares lower before the bell.

ConocoPhillips (COP): UBS takes the energy giant to Sell from Neutral.

Biotech stocks: Amgen (AMGN) and ViroPharma (VPHM) are each now Neutral from Overweight at JP Morgan.

Altera (ALTR): ALTR gets reduced to Hold from Buy at ThinkEquity.

AllianceBernstein (AB): The asset manager is lowered to Underperform from Neutral by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Energy exploration: Jefferies cuts both Continental Resources (CLR) and Forest Oil (FST) to Hold from Buy.

Electronics: Avnet (AVT) and Arrow Electronics (ARW) both get taken to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James.

Panera Bread (PNRA): Raymond James reduces its rating to Market Perform from Outperform.

Sirius XM Radio (SIRI): The home of Howard Stern gets moved to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

SunTrust Banks (STI) Bank of America-Merrill Lynch takes STI to Underperform from Neutral.

Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP): Shares are slashed to Market Perform from Outperform at JPM Securities.

Comerica (CMA): Raymond James cuts CMA to Outperform from Strong Buy.

McMoRan Exploration (MMR): JP Morgan moves MMR to Underweight from Neutral.

Texas Roadhouse (TXRH): The restaurant chain is reduced to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Lear Corp (LEA): Barclays lowers LEA to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Harris Corp (HRS): The tech company is taken to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Concur Technologies (CNQR): Shares are cut to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital. Though the corporate travel backdrop is expected to remain healthy, scope for improvement is seen as constrained.

PulteGroup (PHM) Barclays downgrades the home builder to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Johnson Controls (JCI): The auto parts outfit is taken to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

JB Hunt Transportation (JBHT): BB&T Capitals cuts the stock to Hold from Buy.

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