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Upgrades and Downgrades: Raytheon Falls to Earth

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

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There's proof that good news does indeed come in threes as a third straight session of triple-digit gains sent the Dow to its highest close since mid May. A 100.81 point increase saw blue chips go from red to black for 2010 after FedEx (FDX) assured investors its check is in the mail. Meanwhile new-home sales surpassed expectations, even if June's rate remains the second lowest since records started in 1963. (That decadent decade again; with this year having featured a carbon copy of 1962's "flash crash" and Fidel Castro recently returning to something like his Sixties pomp, it's as if Don Draper has hardly been away). While a savvy businessman returned to our screens, Wall Street was more abuzz over a surprise departure, with Walmart (WMT) the only Dow component to drop after yet another resignation at its important apparel division. Oh, and another noteworthy exit as BP Plc (BP) Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg put his money where his mouth is - after removing his foot from it - and duly demonstrated commitment to the "small people" by banishing Tony Hayward to the birthplace of those increasingly infinitesimal babushka dolls.

Hopefully the Swede's interest in tiny things didn't extend to shorting Long Island's Veeco Instruments (VECO). The nanotechnology stock, which manufactures atomic microscopes among much else, surged 4.49% ahead of record Q2 revenue. Sent to repent his sins in Siberia, home of Rasputin the Mad Monk, Hayward can at least console himself with a $17 million pension from a company which this morning reported a $17 billion loss. America however has the last laugh, as another frozen wasteland which we prized from the Communists was just named as our second biggest jobs juggernaut. Churchill of course once called the Iron Curtain country a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" and another of history's mysteries, seemingly solved earlier in the month, is again open to question. If the chicken really did come first, how to explain an 11.79% increase in egg producer Cal-Maine Foods (CALM) even as poultry processor Sanderson Farms (SAFM) fell 4.10%?

Initiations

Williams-Sonoma
(WSM): Janney Montgomery Scott has a new Neutral on Williams-Sonoma.

Broadsoft (BSFT): begun with a Buy and set a $12 price target at Needham.

Oasis Petroleum
(OAS) : UBS and Canaccord Genuity each pick up Oasis Petroleum with Buys, the latter assigning it a price objective of $20.

Higher One (ONE): gets a higher rating at JMP Securities - Outperform - than the Neutral it gets from Goldman.

CBOE Holdings (CBOE): Macquarie launches Outperform coverage on CBOE Holdings (CBOE).

Principal Financial (PFG): picked up with a Hold by Deutsche Bank.

Upgrades

Sony (SNE): Japanese electronics giant Sony is moved to Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan.

Costco (COST): Stifel Nicolaus hoists Costco to Buy from Hold with a $68 target as its main Sam's Club competition is undergoing internal turmoil.

PG&E Corp (PCG): Goldman Sachs gives PG&E Corp a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Cleco (CNL): gets upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman.

Savvis (SVVS): scores upgrades to Outperform by both RBC Capital (from Sector Perform) and Wells Fargo (from Market Perform).

Downgrades

Walmart (WMT): now Hold at Stifel Nicolaus after recent managerial upheaval at the retailer.

Raytheon (RTN): Cowen reduces its Raytheon recommendation to Neutral from Outperform.

Plum Creek Timber (PCL): cut to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital. |

Knight Transportation (KNX): Deutsche Bank downgrades Knight Transportation is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Zoran (ZRAN): now Hold from Buy at Needham.

NSTAR (NST): gets lowered to Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

Omnicare (OCR): Credit Suisse cuts Omnicare to Neutral from Outperform.

Dime Community Bancshares
(DCOM): downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.

AthenaHealth (ATHN): Saying their post-quarter share strength stems from short covering, Auriga U.S.A takes AthenaHealth to Hold from Buy.

Mosaic (MOS): moved to Hold from Buy by Stifel Nicolaus as it faces legal headwinds.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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