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Upgrades & Downgrades: Time to Hang Up on Motorola?


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Equities ended off their lows but never left negative territory on a day the theory that economists were created to make weathermen look good was tested anew. An unforeseen increase in jobless claims was blamed on a blizzard based backlog. Odd -- as in our technologically enlightened age online in pajamas, not in line at the unemployment office -- is how increasing numbers now file. Palm (PALM), which nosedived 19.28% and incurred analyst wrath, could certainly use some alms, while Goldman Sachs (GS), no stranger to greasing palms, won't be giving Greece high-fives any time soon after apparently being caught in the crookie jar. Meanwhile that sound you heard was the echo of Adam Smith wringing his hidden hands in horror as formerly frugal compatriots at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) boosted their bonus pool immediately after reporting a $5.5 billion loss.

And emboldened by a truly monumental reunion we started to sweat the small stuff, with India and Pakistan resuming peace talks for the first time in 15 months and a televised health care summit bringing warring Washingtonians together again. A manic morning in economics sees this month's Chicago PMI out at 9:45AM Eastern, the University of Michigan's final figure for February consumer confidence at 9:55AM, and January existing home sales at 10:00AM. Earnings are expected from AES Corp (AES), American International Group (AIG), Bayer, Centerpoint Energy (CNP), Frontline (FRO), Interpublic (IPG), Lloyds Banking Group (LYG), Magellan Health (MGLN), Mirant (MIR), Pepco Holdings (POM), and Telefonica (TEF).


Employment Services: Macquarie begins Korn/Ferry (KFY) and Manpower (MAN) with Neutrals on each and assigns an Outperform and $33 price objective on Robert Half International (RHI).

Exchange Stocks: UBS initiates both CME Group (CME) and NASDAQ OMX (NDAQ) at Neutrals and has new Buys on Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and NYSE Euronext (NYX).

J.M. Smucker (SJM): Goldman Sachs starts J.M. Smucker at Neutral.

Canadian Solar (CSIQ): Morgan Stanley starts Canadian Solar at Overweight and sets a $25.60 target.

Incyte (INCY): Oppenheimer initiates Incyte (Outperform; $15 objective) on a high conviction it will report positive phase III data from its lead JAK-1/2 inhibitor INCB18424 in myelofibrosis by year-end.

Amylin (AMLN): The drugmaker is resumed at Outperform by Credit Suisse, with a target of $28, as it says once-weekly Byetta has the most impressive collective efficacy data of any diabetes drug. See also Amylin's Other Drug to Watch.

RailAmerica (RA): Wells Fargo resumes RailAmerica with an Outperform.

Best Buy (BBY): BB&T Capital roll out coverage on Best Buy (Buy; $45 price objective) and RadioShack (Hold).

Dollar Tree (DLTR): The stock is showing some strength ahead of the open after being initiated at Marktt Perform by JMP Securities.

Kraft Foods (KFT): Kraft is resumed with a Hold at Deutsche Bank.


Pharmaceutical Stocks: European pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca (AZN) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) each get Neutral-from-Sell upgrades at Goldman.

Lamar Advertising (LAMR): JP Morgan lifts Lamar Advertising (Overweight from Neutral) and increases its price target by $3 to $36.

El Paso Pipeline (EPB): UBS increases El Paso Pipeline to Buy from Neutral with the target price taken to $29 from $26.

Repsol (REP): The stock is raised to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

China Mobile Stocks: Deutsche Bank boosts both China Telecom (CHA) (Buy from Hold) and China Unicom (CHU) (all the way up to Buy from Sell).

Rosetta Stone (RST): Jefferies raise Rosetta Stone to Buy from Hold and take their target to $29 from $24 after solid fourth quarter earnings. Catalysts include an acceleration in the international business, forthcoming business model diversification and attractive valuation.


Palm (PALM): Piling it on for Palm, Kaufman Brothers cuts it to Hold from Buy and takes its target to $7.50 from $16. Concerns include the broker's belief that Palm is unlikely to reach profitability until 4-6 quarters out and a Verizon (VZ) catalyst which has ended up as much less impactful than expected.

Motorola (MOT): UBS moves Motorola to Neutral from Buy. See also The Missing Ingredient at Motorola, Nokia? Imagination.

REITs: UBS lowers Taubman Centers (TCO) and Equity One (EQY), each now Sell from Neutral.

Bare Escentuals (BARE): Citigroup cuts Bare Escentuals to Hold from Buy.

Dynegy (DYN): Citigroup also reduces its Dynegy rating to Hold from Buy.

Fluor (FLR): Robert Baird reduces Fluor, now Neutral from Outperform with the target cut to $47 from $59 after the engineering firm's earnings miss.

Athenahealth (ATHN): The stock is also lowered to Neutral from Outperform by Baird with the price objective coming down to $35 from $52 after its delay in releasing results.

Ormat Technologies (ORA): Piper Jaffray takes Ormat Technologies to Neutral from Overweight.

Ciena (CIEN): The stock is cut to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus, which cites uncertainty surrounding its acquisition of select Nortel assets.

PetSmart (PETM): The stock is sharply lower before the bell on the back of a Neutral-from-Buy downgrade from Goldman.
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