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Upgrades & Downgrades: Sun Shines on Solar Stocks


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

The Dow posted its fourth gain in five weeks and other indices also advanced, although a failure to strongly follow on from 14 month highs has some market observers warning of fatigue. That the ranks of unemployed swelled by the smallest amount since the recession's start was favorable for all but expensively compensated economists, whose forecasts missed the actual figure by over 100,000 and must thus be fearful of joining the jobless ranks next month. Ben Bernanke, who went before Congress in an attempt to keep working, was named the world's leading thinker -- which a noted market guru didn't think much of.

Equities trimmed advances as the dollar showed unaccustomed strength and Friday's gain for the greenback, its best since June, also put paid to gold's one month winning streak. Though not before bullion had earlier reached record highs; mock geeks who seek buried treasure at your peril. Rupert Murdoch raged against his media empire turning into a paper tiger and Tiger was in the papers. It's a dull day in economic data but the critical Copenhagen Climate change confab has commenced, albeit 40 minutes late. Earnings announcements include Casey's General Stores (CASY), Krispy Kreme (KKD), Pep Boys (PBY), and Kroger (KR).


Vitamin Shoppe (VSI): The stock is initiated at Overweight by Piper Jaffray ($24 price target), Barclays and JP Morgan.

Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA): BNP Paribas picks up Teva Pharmaceutical with an Outperform.

Hyatt Hotels (H): Keefe Bruyette initiates Hyatt Hotels at Market Perform.


Solar Stocks: Barclays upgrades SunPower (SPWRA) ($35 price objective), JA Solar (JASO) ($6), and Suntech (STP), all to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Credit Cards: Bank of America/Merrill Lynch lifts credit card companies American Express (AXP), Capital One (COF) and Discover Financial (DFS), all now Neutral from Underperform. While caution remains, Friday's more positive payroll report could serve as an "inflection point".

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD): The chipmaker is showing strength before the bell after an Outperform-from-Underperform boost at Sanford Bernstein, which sets a target of $12. See also Lean Against Semiconductors' Leadership.

Health Management Associates (HMA): Wells Fargo's more constructive stance on the hospital sector means an upgrade for Health Management Associates (Outperform from Market Perform).

ACE Limited (ACE): Insurer ACE Limited gets a Buy-from-Neutral increase at Goldman Sachs.

Potash Corp. (POT): Goldman is also raising its rating on Potash Corp to Buy from Neutral and takes its target to $140.

Agrium (AGU): Potash's competitor Agrium is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS, which sees a "more normalized" level of long-term demand.

Cummins (CMI): The stock is added to the Americas Conviction Buy list at Goldman.

EnergySolutions (ES): The stock is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee, with an $11.50 target price, as stimulus spending should start to prove positive.

Kohl's (KSS): Robert Baird upgrades Kohl's(Outperform from Neutral) on a compelling valuation.

Brocade Communications (BRCD): Oppenheimer upgrades Brocade Communications to Outperform from Perform based on a strong 12% Free Cash Flow yield.

Phillips Electronics (PHG): Deutsche Bank boosts Philips Electronics to Buy from Hold, citing a mix shift to higher margin businesses among other factors.


Athenahealth (ATHN): Cantor Fitzgerald cuts AthenaHealth to Hold from Buy.

Consumer Products: Consumer stocks Avon (AVP), Colgate-Palmolive (CL), and Kimberly-Clark (KMB) are each lowered to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Coventry Health (CVH): Wells Fargo cuts Coventry Health to Market Perform from Outperform as part of its more bearish overall outlook on the managed care industry.

Illinois Tool Works (ITW): The stock is removed from Conviction List at Goldman, though the Buy rating remains intact. Price objective is $59.

Marsh & McLennan (MMC): Goldman also downgrades Marsh & McLennan, now Neutral from Buy.

Bare Escentuals (BARE): The stock has plenty to hide after being clipped to Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

Siemens AG (SI): The stock is now Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Zale (ZLC): Soleil Securities reduces its Zale rating to Sell from Hold.

Barrick Gold (ABX): Credit Suisse cuts Barrick Gold to Neutral from Outperform. For more on precious metals, see Was That the Top?

DuPont (DD): Credit Suisse downgrades DuPont to Neutral from Outperform.

Juniper Networks (JNPR): The stock is now Sell (from Hold) at Auriga, due to market share and pricing concerns.

Advance Auto Parts (AAP): BR Capital downgrades Advance Auto Parts (Underperform from Market Perform) on slowing commercial productivity.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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