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Upgrades & Downgrades: Peet's Coffee Poised to Perk Up


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

On Groundhog Day, it was déjà vu all over again, Dow Industrials (^DJI) dropping for a fifth day in six and seventh in nine as the blue chip index budged less than 1% for a 21st straight session. Someone should send for arch capitalist Ayn Rand, also born on 2/2 and who would insist investors repeat the experience until they got it right, all the while lording it over us from her laissez-faire front row seat Heaven. (Or Hell, depending on your point of view, although my money's on the former following Hain Celestial's (HAIN) 5.55% breakout to a new high.) Alan Greenspan's heroine no doubt agreed with Mitt Romney when he said "I don't care about the very poor." After all, it turns out both erstwhile juvenile delinquent graffiti sprayers and hoodie-clad school dropouts - just the sort who so troubled Britain's Prime Minister - are doing just fine thank you very much, at least if they are even fair weather friends with Facebook. Indeed such a halo effect saw Gap Inc (GPS) gap up 10.64% to top the entire S&P 500 Index (^GSPC). Fellow clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), which caters to the scantily clad MTV demographic, literally lost investors' shirts in sliding 13.73% to lead all S&P laggards. This on the day network owner Viacom (VIA), which itself fell 1.35% on a decline in net revenue, debuted a show called I Just Want My Pants Back; prepare for more naked short selling of both stocks.

Qualcomm (QCOM), the world's biggest maker of cell-phone chips, fared far better, advancing 1.96% to a new 52-week peak of $60.73. Though that is still - if you'll excuse the expression - in the toilet when one considers one analyst in 1999 assigned a $1000 target on the stock. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) rose 23.85% but fellow Vermont hippies Ben and Jerry - now ironically ensconced in the multi billion dollar arms of corporate giant Unilever (UN) - were powerless to prevent their parent company, downgraded this morning, from slumping 3.38% yesterday. And better not trust your money to Brink's (BCO), the owner of heavily armored trucks used to safeguard all kinds of valuables having just slid 17.59%. This morning in economics, December 2011 factory orders are expected to slip slightly on a monthly basis at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. It's another frenetic Friday for fourth quarter earnings with American Axle (AXL), BT Group (BT), Clorox (CLX), Estée Lauder (EL), MoneyGram International (MGI), Sirona Dental Systems (SIRO), Tyson Foods (TSN), and Weyerhaeuser (WY) all due to release results.


Dollar Stores: JP Morgan establishes a fresh Overweight on Family Dollar (FDO) and has a new Neutral on Dollar General (DG).

Oil & Gas: Credit Suisse assigns Outperforms on Apache (APA) and Noble Energy (NBL).

REITs: A headache for hoarders as Cantor Fitzgerald resumes Sell rated coverage on Extra Space Storage (EXR) and Public Storage (PSA). It has a Hold on Sovran Self Storage (SSS) and begins a Buy on CubeSmart (CUBE).

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) ThinkEquity rolls out Buy rated research on REGN.


Peet's Coffee & Tea (PEET): Shares get an Outperform-from-Neutral boost at Robert W. Baird, which raises its price objective to $76 from $61. The broker believes long-term investors should consider building positions ahead of a potential sharp acceleration in earnings growth starting in the year's second half.

Urban Outfitters (URBN): Janney Montgomery Scott upgrades URBN to Buy from Neutral with a $31 target price. Catalysts include better inventory discipline and an improved merchandising mix at its Anthropologie unit.

Liberty Media (LINTA): LINTA is lifted to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Advance Auto Parts (AAP): JP Morgan juices its recommendation on the car company to Neutral from Underweight.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN): ALXN gets added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs.

BB&T Corp (BBT): The regional bank is raised to Equal Weight from Underweight by Barclays.

Eastman Chemical (EMN): Goldman gives the stock an unusual 180 degree Buy-from-Sell increase.

Infinera (INFN): JP Morgan takes the tech stock to Neutral from Underweight.

National Oilwell Varco (NOV): Morgan Stanley moves the energy outfit to Overweight from Equal Weight, sending shares up before the bell.

Tetra Tech (TTEK): TTEK is taken to Outperform from Neutral at Robert Baird, whose target goes up by $4 to $30. Strong organic growth and consistent operational execution are encouraging.


Merck (MRK): Davenport downgrades the drug maker, a key Dow component, to Neutral from Buy.

Aetna (AET): Goldman removes the insurance stock from its list of Conviction Buys

Research In Motion (RIMM): The beleaguered BlackBerry maker gets downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies.

RadioShack (RSH): At the end of a week it will want to forget, RSH is reduced to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

OpenTable (OPEN): ThinkEquity reduces the online restaurant reservation outfit to Hold from Buy. Shares are lower before the bell as a result.

International Paper (IP): Citing both increasing commodity costs and the Justice Department reviewing its Temple-Inland (TIN) acquisition, RBC Capital cuts IP to Sector Perform from Outperform and trims its target to $34.

Unilever NV (UN): The Anglo-Dutch consumer products powerhouse, whose household names include Axe, Dove, Lipton, Noxzema, and Vaseline, is now Hold from Buy at Société Générale.

CarMax (KMX): KMX is cut to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Cablevision (CVC): JP Morgan moves the cable company to Underweight from Neutral.

Acme Packet (APKT): Shares are now Underperform from Neutral at Mizuho, which also takes its objective to $18 from $25 amid a premium multiple and sharp earnings deceleration.

Brocade (BRCD): The tech firm gets taken to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBVA): Shares in the Spanish bank are slashed to Sell from Neutral at UBS, which cites headwinds in its home market including higher loan-loss provisions and real estate write-downs.

Banco Santander (SAN): SAN is now Underweight from Neutral at JP Morgan.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): The drug company gets downgraded by both Goldman (Neutral from Buy) and Cowen (Neutral from Outperform)., Inc (KFRC): Deutsche Bank cuts the staffing firm to Hold from Buy.

Utilities: Southern Union (SUG) and El Paso (EP) are each now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN): Shares are lowered to Neutral from Buy at Lazard.
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