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Upgrades & Downgrades: Qualcomm Comes on Strong

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Stocks posted their best performance in almost two months to start 2010 as all three major averages reached levels last seen in the autumn of '08. Oil increased an eighth day and although frankincense and myrrh's season in the sun is over, gold's fourth straight gain gave bullion its best streak in eight weeks (even if nuggets are still less sought after in America than McNuggets). A Chile strike sent copper to a 17-month summit and a chilly snap saw futures for orange juice jump 7.8%. The New York Times (NYT), which dropped the ball a few days earlier, bounced back to a fresh 52-week high.

Exactly a decade after a gunshot marriage to disparage, firearm firm Sturm, Ruger & Co (RGR) rose 5.57% on an upgrade. Indeed something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue was the way to play yesterday. (Fossil (FOSL), the aforesaid newspaper and Tiffany (TIF) all scaled 12-month peaks while Morgan Stanley (MS) surged 4.43% on upbeat analyst comments.) In economics, November factory orders and pending home sales are each released at 10:00AM and AngioDynamics (ANGO), Carter's (CRI), Sonic (SONC), and Synnex (SNX) are expected to announce earnings.

Initiations

Dell (DELL): The computer maker is begun with a Buy at Stifel Nicolaus ahead of an expected mid year upgrade cycle which should prove positive. See also Why Dell Can't Wait for 2010.

Tech Stocks: Morgan Stanley starts several stocks in large cap tech. Motorola (MOT) is assigned an Underweight while Palm (PALM) ($14 price objective), Research in Motion (RIMM) (65.93), and Qualcomm (QCOM) are all Overweight. For more, see Palm Reading: Investors Left With More Questions.

Bank Stocks: Barclays begins Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS-B), Credit Suisse (CS), and Banco Santander (STD) each at Equal Weight. Deutsche Bank (DB) and HSBC Holdings (HBC) are given Overweights.

Nanometrics (NANO): The stock is picked up at Outperform by RBC Capital.

Generic Drug Stocks: Forest Labs (FRX) and Mylan Labs (MYL) are both started at Sell by Calyon Securities, while Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) is rated Outperform.

Diebold (DBD): JP assumes coverage on Diebold (Neutral; $33 target).

Upgrades

Qualcomm: The stock is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at JPM Securities, which sets a target of $60.

Ag Stocks: Credit Suisse turns more constructive on both Potash Corp (POT) (Outperform from Neutral) and Intrepid Potash (IPI) (Neutral from Underperform).

RadioShack (RSH): The retailer is up sharply ahead of the open after Goldman Sachs gave it a Buy-from-Neutral boost. The stock is also added to the firm's Conviction Buy List and it is assigned a higher target price of $25.

Ericsson (ERIC): The stock is upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Biogen Idec (BIIB): Bank of America/Merrill Lynch lifts Biogen Idec to Neutral from Underperform and increases its target by $10 to $58.

Medical Device Makers: Wells Fargo raises ratings on medical device makers Kinetic Concepts (KCI) and Zimmer Holdings (ZMH), each now Outperform from Market Perform.

Avery Dennison (AVY-PA): The stock gets an Outperform-from-Neutral upgrade by Robert Baird, which increases its objective to $45 from $40, as the company's cost cutting begins to bear fruit.

Warncao Group (WRC): Lazard raises its Warnaco Group rating to Buy from Hold.

WellPoint (WLP): The healthcare stock is increased to Buy from Hold ($72 target) at Stifel Nicolaus, which says health care reform won't eliminate private sector insurance. See also, Health-Care Reform Means No Recovery.

Psychiatric Solutions (PSYS): The stock is upped to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

Downgrades

Visa (V): The credit card company gets cut to Outperform from Top Pick at RBC Capital.

Regal Entertainment (RGC): Janney Montgomery Scott downgrades Regal Entertainment to Neutral from Buy.

Telecom Italia (TI): Morgan Stanley hangs up on Telecom Italia, taking it to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Check Point Software (CHKP): The stock is lowered to Hold from Buy at Auriga as multiple expansion is expected to be limited.

TD Ameritrade (AMTD): Raymond James reduces its TD Ameritrade rating to Outperform from Strong Buy.

Charles Schwab (SCHW): The broker is cut to Market Perform from Outperform.

Energy Stocks: In energy, JP Morgan downgrades Brigham Exploration (BEXP) and Concho Resources (CXO), each now Neutral from Overweight.

SPX Corp (SPW): Citigroup downgrades SPX Corp to Hold from Buy.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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