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Upgrades & Downgrades: Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee


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

Looks like that Super Bowl ad which made light of this year supposedly being the end of the world, Barry Manilow warbling "Looks like we made it" in the background, may have been a mite premature. (It certainly proved an unlucky omen for the singer, promptly forced to cancel a much anticipated Radio City gig barely twenty-four hours later.) In a week lacking economic data to distract, and amid continued iffy earnings announcements, Greece's Armageddon again took center stage, its ongoing debt debacle snapping stocks' five-week winning streak as indices posted their first such loss of 2012. Winners among the wreckage included Yum Brands (YUM), the KFC owner hitting the highest level in its history. That will be a measure of consolation for Mr. Manilow, who did after all once sing of how everyone could "have a barrel of fun" at the fast food firm, back when it was less cryptically known as simply Kentucky Fried Chicken. For those who prefer to eat more organically, Whole Foods (WFM) took its 12-month gain to 36.79% in reaching a fresh peak of its own. Those ironic hipster rioting Occupiers in Oakland, attackers of a company that boasts a vegan CEO whose salary is a $1 a year couldn't be reached for comment.

Their Mediterranean brothers-in-arms spent Sunday tossing petrol bombs, wisely concluding they should do so before Brent crude, already at a six-month high of over $118 a barrel, inflicts more pain at the pump. Athenians, if the incomparable Adele will allow me a little poetic license with her latest hit single a day after taking home six Grammy's, set fire to the reign of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, burning at least 45 buildings over the weekend. Harman International (HAR) was one of the week's standout stocks, the provider of audio products and speakers making itself heard over the cacophony by gaining 11.50% after its impressive fourth quarter results concluded a year its founder passed away at 93. Those fortunate enough to have invested in it will say money talks. But it never sings, certainly not like Whitney Houston, an angel's voice silenced way too soon at 48. No top-tier economic data out today but Anglo American Platinum (AGPPY.PK), Charles River International (CRL), Deutsche Börse, Diebold (DBD), Health Management Associates (HMA), L'Oréal, Masco (MAS), and Rackspace Hosting (RAX) are all due to announce earnings.


DuPont (DD): The Dow (^DJI) member is initiated with an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD): Credit Suisse begins Neutral rated coverage on the brewing behemoth, now based in Belgium.

Adobe Systems (ADBE): Cowen has an Outperform on ADBE.

Mannkind (MNKD): Piper Jaffray picks up MNKD at an Overweight.

Nevada Gold and Casinos (UWN): Brokers William Smith start a Buy and $2.75 target price on the micro-cap stock, saying a Washington state regulatory overhaul to allow electronic gaming within commercial casinos would be a considerable catalys.

Targa Resources Partners (NGLS): Shares are a new Neutral at Robert W. Baird, which assigns a price objective of $41.

Financial-related stocks: WisdomTree (WTEF): Citigroup has a fresh Buy on WTEF and establishes Neutral rated research on exchange operator NYSE Euronext (NYX).


Procter & Gamble (PG): The blue chip is named a long Research Tactical Idea at Morgan Stanley.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD): Sanford Bernstein hoists the semiconductor firm to Outperform from Market Perform.

ArcelorMittal (MT): The European steel giant gets upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Ingersoll-Rand (IR): Bernstein boosts the shares to Outperform from Market Perform.

Sara Lee Corp (SLE): Shares are moved to Outperform from Market Perform by Sanford Bernstein, which also takes its price target up to $24 amid improved profitability in the company's coffee business among other favorable factors.

Shoe Carnival (SCVL): The company is now Buy from Neutral at Northcoast.

Varian Medical (VAR): VAR gets an Outperform-from-Neutral raise at Robert Baird, which takes its target up by $4 to $76 as the valuation is increasingly compelling on a company delivering still-healthy mid-teens annual Earnings Per Share growth.

NVIDIA (NVDA): The stock is trading higher ahead of the open after being moved to Outperform from Market Perform with a $20 price target at FBR Capital, which cites a reasonably attractive valuation of 13.5 times Price-to-Earnings.

Oil & Gas: Oceaneering International (OII) gets added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs, which also gives Buy-from-Neutral increases to both Noble Corp (NE) and Ensco (ESV).

Swift Energy (SFY): SFY is taken to Buy from Neutral at Suntrust.

Trina Solar (TSL): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the alternative energy equity an unusual 180 degrees, to Buy from Underperform.

United Natural Foods (UNFI): The equity is increased to Outperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital.

Watsco (WSO): The wholesale electronics outfit is upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBS.


Arch Coal (ACI): ACI is cut by both Brean Murray (Hold from Buy) and Crédit Agricole (Sell from Underperform) as its peers are now better positioned to weather the current weakness in domestic thermal coal demand.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU): The telecom titan is taken to Sell from Hold at Société Générale following Friday's 12.89% surge, sending shares lower before the bell.

Estée Lauder (EL): Citigroup lowers the cosmetics company to Neutral from Buy after recent earnings were relatively disappointing.

Monster Worldwide (MWW): Shares are moved to Sell from Neutral at Citi.

Steel stocks: Keybanc cuts both U.S. Steel (X) and Steel Dynamics (STLD) to Hold from Buy.

Semiconductor stocks: Broadcom (BRCM) and Marvell (MRVL) are both moved to Hold from Buy at The Benchmark Company to Hold from Buy due to valuation concerns.

H & R Block (HRB): Morgan Stanley names the tax titan a short Research Tactical Idea.

Oil & Gas: Helmerich & Payne (HP), Baker Hughes (BHI), and Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN) are all taken to Neutral from Buy at Goldman.

Barclays (BCS): The British bank is now Neutral from Buy at Nomura and Hold from Buy at Société Générale.

Buckeye Partners (BPL): Citi slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.

FMC Technologies (FTI): Noting that only about 55% of its operating income comes from lucrative subsea markets, Global Hunter Securities takes FTI to Neutral from Buy.

First Solar (FSLR): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy by Brigantine.

Exide Technologies (XIDE): The small cap stock is cut to Hold from Accumulate at Ardour Capital, which has less love for it amid exposure to Europe's economic slowdown.

NuVasive (NUVA): Robert Baird reduces its recommendation to Outperform to Neutral at Robert W. Baird and takes its objective down by $10, to $28. Concerns include still-soft patient volumes and an ongoing loss of sales reps.

Silvercorp Metals (SVM): The company is cut to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF): Caris & Company lowers LGF to Sell from Hold.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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