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Upgrades & Downgrades: Playskool Parent Hasbro Sent to Back of Class


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

Just when the prospect of a Big Fat Greek Wedding no one wanted threatened investors with a Valentine's Day massacre, Venus saved the day, with Wall Street miraculously managing to keep its head above water by the time a bevy of swimsuit models brought trading to a close. A late rally enabled the Dow (^DJI), down 88 at its depths after more Mediterranean misery, to greet the closing belles with a four point gain. Shares bounced back after Reuters reported a key official in Athens was to deliver a "letter of commitment" to lenders this morning. A day late and several billion dollars short, undoubtedly, but let's at least give him credit for getting into the spirit of Cupid's courtly love. Romance was indeed in the most unlikely air, with the old expression that politics makes strange bedfellows being borne out by even Republicans and Democrats apparently agreeing on something. (They better take care not to catch anything from this new-found intimacy, especially on a day Spain's Banco Santander (STD) - cringe worthy stock symbol and all - slipped after seeing its credit rating cut.) Gals who complain that it's only gay guys who truly get them may have a point - women's clothing king Michael Kors (KORS), who tied the knot with same sex partner Lance LePere last year, surged 27.49% to top the entire NYSE. Elsewhere, Eve's age-old strategy of tempting Adam with an Apple (AAPL) continues to pay dividends, the tech titan advancing 1.36% to yet another new high.

Hershey (HSY) rose 1.32% after the day's most appropriate analyst initiation and while the fair sex may have to kiss a lot of amphibians to find their prince, at least that sent LeapFrog (LF) jumping 7.89%, and lipstick leader Avon (AVP) wasn't about to complain after increasing 1.54% on a four-fold spike in volume. And, although the evidence may not be in until November, it appears couples spent the session reproducing. (Get your mind out of the gutter; I refer only to photocopy company Xerox (XRX) rising some 4.36%.) Not all Valentine's picks fared as well, with a romantic sunset being ruined by First Solar (FSLR) sliding 6.02%. Amorous investors also took a bath in Calgon (CCC), with the creator of iconic bubbles losing 5.80%, while Italian love seat maker Natuzzi (NTZ) fell 4.40%. Far better to stick with rocks, which remain a girl's best friend judging by this morning's bullish comments on Harry Winston (HWD). (That's the real thing fellas, not Diamondrock Hospitality (DRH), down 3.8% yesterday, Diamond Foods (DMND), a 37.5% decliner last week, or even Bob Diamond, the beleaguered CEO of Barclays (BCS), which tumbled 1.27% on Tuesday in spite of an upgrade.) And finally, Penthouse magazine publisher Friendfinder Networks (FFN) nose-dived 9.33% - perhaps its core audience had more attractive offers last night? This afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Eastern we get minutes to the Federal Open Market Committee's January 26 meeting. On the earnings front Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), BNP Paribas, CBS Corp (CBS), Danone, Dean Foods (DF), Deere (DE), Heineken, Marriott International (MAR), and Tesla Motors (TSLA) are all due to report results.


Luxury brands: Citigroup begins Harry Winston Diamond (HWD) and Movado Group (MOV) with Buys on both.

TripAdvisor (TRIP): The recent Internet IPO is picked up at a Neutral by Piper Jaffray.

Golar LNG Partners (GMLP): Shares get initiated with a Buy rating and $40 price objective at Dahlman Rose, which cites its impressive fleet of owned and operated LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) carriers.

Solazyme (SZYM): Canaccord Genuity starts Buy rated research on SZYM.

Syneron Medical (ELOS): Cantor Fitzgerald covers the company at a Buy.


eBay Inc (EBAY): The online auctioneer is added to the Best Ideas List with Wedbush.

Safeway (SWY): The grocery giant gets an Outperform-from-Neutral upgrade at Credit Suisse.

Omnicare (OCR): Credit Suisse takes the drug wholesaler to Outperform from Neutral.

BioMed Realty (BMR): Shares are lifted to Buy from Hold with a $21 price target at Stifel Nicolaus, the broker believing it offers good value here trading within their 7.0% to 7.5% of their NAV (Net Asset Value) range estimate.

Copa Holdings (CPA): The Panama-based air carrier gets an Overweight-from-Equal Weight boost by Barclays.

Fidelity National Information Services (FIS): JP Morgan moves the stock to Neutral from Underweight.

Fusion-io (FIO): FIO is hoisted to Buy from Hold with a $30 target price at The Benchmark Company, which says current valuation levels present investors with an attractive entry point. Shares are sharply higher ahead of the open as a result.

National Cinemedia (NCMI): Piper Jaffray juices its recommendation to Overweight from Neutral.


Bank of America (BAC): A second downgrade in two days for this Dow component, moved to Market Perform from Outperform by Sanford Bernstein this morning.

Dell Inc (DELL): Saying "We do not find the risk reward compelling" after a recent surge to multi-year highs, Sterne Agee cuts the computer company to Underperform from Neutral. Among other issues are a challenging competitive environment and its exposure to the PC market. The objective is $15.

Oracle (ORCL): The enterprise software stock is taken to Above Average from Buy at Caris & Company.

Anglo American (AAUKY.PK): The miner is moved to Neutral from Buy at Citi.

Arbitron (ARB): Deutsche Bank downgrades ARB to Hold from Buy.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBVA): The beleaguered Spanish bank is lowered to Underperform from Market Perform by BNP Paribas.

Children's Place (PLCE): The retailer is now Neutral from Outperform with Wedbush.

Fossil (FOSL): Shares are taken to Hold from Buy by Benchmark Company after a parabolic recent share price run up.

Kimberly-Clark (KMB): Janney Montgomery Scott cuts the Kleenex manufacturer to Neutral from Buy.

Lockheed Martin (LMT): LMT is lowered to Market Perform from Outperform by Bernstein.

Publicis Groupe (PUBGY.PK): The Paris-based advertising and public relations giant gets downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities.

Hasbro (HAS): The toy-maker, owner of brands such as Transformers, Playskool, and G.I. Joe, is slashed to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee.

Hotel stocks: Robert Baird reduces ratings on Host Hotels (HST) ($17 objective), LaSalle Hotel (LHO) ($28), and Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB), all now Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG): Staying in the space, IHG is now Neutral from Outperform at BNP Paribas.

Generac (GNRC): GNRC gets downgraded to Neutral from Outperform with a $28 objective at Baird, which awaits increased signs of a residential recovery before becoming more constructive on the company.

Fresenius Medical (FMS): WestLB cuts the company to Neutral from Add.

Deutsche Börse (DBOEY.PK): The exchange operator is now Neutral from Add at WestLB.

Weight Watchers International (WTW): Shares are slimmed down by both Wedbush (Neutral from Outperform) and Auriage (Hold from Buy.)

Zynga (ZNGA): The recent Internet IPO is now Neutral from Outperform with a new $13 target at Robert W. Baird. Although first quarter earnings were solid, upcoming concerns include a second-half weighted release schedule and potential issues with unique payer trends on Facebook. Barclays (Equal Weight from Overweight) and Evercore (Underweight from Equal Weight) pile on the misery.
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