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Upgrades & Downgrades: Starbucks Set to Perk Up

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Although the overall market ended mixed, a late improvement sent the Dow up for a fifth straight day. Which, considering obstacles including superstitions -- it was after all the Ides of March -- and statisticians armed with evidence sleepy traders spend Daylight Saving Time replenishing their beauty sleep, wasn't too shabby. Equities had earlier been in the red after the Premier of Red China rebuffed calls for a stronger yuan at his annual news conference. (A leader who is in our living rooms but once a year? America may want to import that particular policy.) Another sluggish trading session still saw some standouts. A dividend increase and share repurchase program had buyers flock to PepsiCo (PEP), based appropriately enough in a place called Purchase, sending the snack and soft drink behemoth up 1.61%. See also Pepsi Out With Refreshing News.

Heart-rhythm regulator Boston Scientific (BSX) tumbled 12.72% in the S&P 500's worst performance, though panicky shareholders likely placed orders for the company's products as quickly as they sold its stock. And within hours of Money Money Money making machine ABBA entering rock's Hall of Fame in New York, that state announced its bankrupt budget may miss its deliciously appropriate deadline of All Fools' Day. Today the FOMC is forecast to keep interest rates unchanged at 2:15PM Eastern and on the corporate front earnings are expected from CIT Group (CIT), Deutsche Bank (DB), Discover Financial Services (DFS), DSW Inc (DSW), FactSet Research (FDS), and Rue21 (RUE).

Initiations

Petrobras (PBR): The stock is picked up with a Buy at Nomura.

Western Union (WU): Susquehanna starts Western Union at a Positive.

Tire Stocks: Morgan Stanley initiates Cooper Tire & Rubber (CTB) at Overweight, and assigns an Underweight on Goodyear Tire (GT).

Green Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE): The stock is a new Overweight at Piper Jaffray, which establishes a price objective of $19.

Small & Midcaps: Bank of America/Merrill Lynch begins the small & midcap S&P Sector. Among its Buys are Petrohawk Energy (HK) with a $26 target, Continental Resources (CLR), and Forest Oil (FST).

Upgrades

Starbucks (SBUX): UBS upgrades Starbucks, now Buy from Neutral.

Clorox (CLX): The stock is boosted to Overweight from Equal-Weight by Barclays, who also take their price target up to $71 from $67.

Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX): The stock gets a Buy-from-Neutral increase at Goldman Sachs. For a related story, see The Next Big Opportunity for Big Pharma Is BRIC.

Sonic Corp. (SONC): Piper Jaffray gives a 180 degree (Overweight from Underweight) lift to Sonic Corp, and increases its objective to $12 from $8.

St. Jude Medical (STJ): Goldman Sachs pulls St. Jude Medical from its list of Conviction Sells.

Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL): The stock is sharply higher ahead of the open after being upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

PAREXEL International (PRXL): Goldman Sachs boosts biopharmaceutical services stock PAREXEL International to Buy from Neutral.

Downgrades

Boston Scientific (BSX): A little after the fact perhaps given yesterday's share price plunge, but Boston Scientific gets taken to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs. Also read In Cardiology, Medical Devices Dominate Drugs.

Healthcare Stocks: Goldman also removes both Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) and UnitedHealth (UNH) from its Conviction Buy list.

Kimberly Clark (KMB): The stock is added to Goldman's Conviction Sell list.

Wyndham Worldwide (WYN): Wyndham is now rated Neutral from Buy with Goldman.

Cheesecake Factory (CAKE): Having its cake and eating it too isn't an option for Cheesecake Factory, now Underweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

Brinker International (EAT): The stock may not be good enough to eat either after an Underweight-from-Neutral downgrade at Piper, which maintains its $16 target.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU): The Royal Bank of Scotland reduces Alcatel-Lucent to Hold from Buy.

Psychiatric Solutions (PSYS): Wells Fargo cuts Psychiatric Solutions to Market Perform from Outperform.

Western Union (WU) is lowered to Market Perform from Outperform with William Blair brokers.

Manulife Financial (MFC): Argus moves Manulife Financial to Hold from Buy due to valuation.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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