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Upgrades & Downgrades: Hanging Up on AT&T


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Broad based gains on merger activity and upbeat macro data sent stocks to fresh one-month highs and propelled the S&P 500 and Nasdaq into positive territory for 2010. Ford (F) rose 5.71% to its highest level in half a decade, likely of little interest to Henry Ford Senior who once said "history is bunk." Harold Ford Junior meanwhile announced he won't be running for the Senate in today's New York Times, which itself made headlines after surging 7.40% on takeover talk which seems Slim.

Auction house Sotheby's (BID) was bid up 9.09% on earnings which beat the Street, making money on the day an art thief came to grief after taking Monet. And we may be in March but there's new life in Old Man Winter as 78 year old Rupert, 79 year old Warren, and 86 year old Sumner all made waves. It's a quiet day in economics but earnings are expected out of Allied Irish Banks (AIB), Cooper Tire & Rubber (CTB), Diamond Foods (DMND), Diana Shipping (DSX), Domino's Pizza (DPZ), Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV), Staples (SPLS), United Natural Foods (UNFI), and URS Corp. (URS).


AOL, Inc. (AOL): Citing a lack of near-term catalysts and uncertainty over turnaround timing, Jefferies starts AOL, Inc at Hold and sets a $27 target price.

Allergan (AGN): No frown lines for Botox maker Allergan, assigned an Outperform with a price objective of $66 by Calyon. See also Sign of the Times? Cosmetic Surgery Is Back.

EXCO Resources (XCO): Barclays begins EXCO Resources (Overweight; $29 target).

Health Care REIT (HCN): Goldman Sachs starts Health Care REIT with a Neutral.

HCP, Inc. (HCP): The stock is resumed at Neutral ($30 target) at Credit Suisse as its shares are fully valued.

Rick's Cabaret (RICK): The stock is resumed at an Outperform and $22 target at Rodman & Renshaw.


Dell (DELL): The computer maker gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at UBS. For an alternate viewpoint, see Thinking of Picking Up Dell Cheap? Don't.

MSCI Inc. (MXB): Keefe Bruyette moves MSCI Inc to Outperform from Market Perform.

FEMSA: HSBC hoists FEMSA, now Overweight from Neutral.

Repsol (REP): ING Group raises its Repsol rating to Hold from Sell.

Aegon (AEF): UBS increases Aegon to Buy from Neutral.

Suncor Energy (SU): The stock is upgraded to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank.

Cinema Stocks: Oscar week sees Regal Entertainment (RGC) and Cinemark (CNK) both get Outperform-from-Market Perform boosts by BMO Capital.

SanDisk (SNDK): SanDisk, which surged 11.94% yesterday, is upgraded to Neutral from Sell by UBS. The price objective also increases $8 to $34 as gross margins are expected to expand.

Marvell Technology (MRVL): The stock is showing strength ahead of the open after Lazard lifted it to Buy from Hold and assigned a price objective of $26.


AT&T (T): HSBC lowers AT&T, now Neutral from Overweight. See also AT&T: Run Like It Really Wants to Lose.

Kimberly-Clark (KMB): Rising pulp prices and heightened competition are among the factors behind Kimberly-Clark's Sell from Neutral cut at Goldman Sachs, which also takes its target down by $3 to $60.

Deutsche Telekom (DT): The stock is downgraded to Equal-Weight from Overweight by Barclays Capital, which believes the shares will be range-bound.

OSI Pharmaceuticals (OSIP): The stock is cut to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Adams after yesterday's hostile bid from Astellas. The broker does not believe any counter-offer, whether from Roche or another party, will come in substantially above current trading levels, it at all. Also see The Battle for OSI Pharma. Also believing a Roche counter bid to be unlikely, UBS cuts OSI Pharmaceuticals to Neutral from Buy.

Shanda Games (GAME): Goldman gives Shanda Games a Neutral-from-Buy cut.

Shanda Interactive Entertainment (SNDA): Roth reduces Shanda Interactive Entertainment to Hold from Buy and cuts its price objective to $48 from $65 after its Q4 EPS missed consensus estimates.

Riverbed Technologies (RVBD): Bank of America/Merrill Lynch lowers Riverbed Technology, now Neutral from Buy.

Millipore (MIL): UBS moves Millipore to Neutral from Buy.

Southern Union (SUG): The stock gets a Hold-from-Buy downgrade at Stifel Nicolaus, which says the market is largely pricing in continued strength in its Gathering and Processing segment margins as well as the higher contributions from its capital projects.

RiskMetrics (RISK): Citing the merger related share price run-up, Credit Suisse cuts RiskMetrics to Neutral from Outperform.

Micron Technology (MU): The stock is lower before the bell after being cut to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Palm (PALM): Wary of a poor market outlook, waning developer support and balance sheet concerns, Pacific Crest reduces Palm to Sector Perform from Outperform.
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