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Upgrades & Downgrades: Wall Street Looks to Walmart


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Clocks went forward but stocks looked back last week, most notably Nasdaq which marked the tenth anniversary of its all time top by adding another 1.8% for a fresh 2010 high. As it's now up 87% since March 9, 2009 maybe the Meekers really do inherit the Earth, just a decade late. Elsewhere the Dow enjoyed its fourth gain in five weeks while the S&P 500 reached its best level since October of '08. Espresso shots outperformed gunshots as Starbucks (SBUX), suddenly a firearm's best friend, hit a 52-week peak while pistol producer Smith & Wesson (SWHC) fell 12.47% on Friday after a third-quarter earnings miss.

Gordon Gekko was burned by the Bonfire of the Vanity Fairs as the publication's current cover king saw his movie pushed back to September, ominously the worst month for equities. At least his photographer managed to reverse the front page curse, as Annie Leibovitz found a financial lifeline. And while Athens awaits its own debt restructuring, soccer's most bankable star was unable to avoid the wrath of Achilles. A busier week in economics begins with February industrial production and capacity utilization at 9:15AM Eastern. On the corporate front earnings are expected out of, American Apparel (APP), Athenahealth (ATHN), Bulgari, 3Com (COMS), and Williams-Sonoma (WSM).


Beazer Homes (BZH): Citigroup starts Beazer Homes at a Buy.

JDS Uniphase (JDSU): Auriga initiates JDS Uniphase with a Buy and establishes a $15 target price, as its dominant position gives it better resources for R&D, M&A, and marketing than its peers.

Finisar (FNSR): The stock is also picked up at Buy ($19) with Auriga as the company's exposure to LANs gives it greater benefit from the server virtualization trend.

Akamai Technologies (AKAM): Kaufman assumes Akamai Technologies with a Hold and sets a $33 price objective on the shares. For more on this sector, see The Bullish Case for Tech Stocks. International (CTRP): Cowen starts International at a Neutral.

Novavax (NVAX): The stock is up sharply ahead of the open after being resumed with a Buy and $5 target at Roth Capital. The broker believes a successful outcome of pivotal Phase II trials in Mexico for the pandemic influenza virus H1N1 should bode well for shares.


Walmart (WMT): The retail giant is increased to Buy from Hold at Citigroup, which also increases its price objective by $11 to $65.

BT Group (BT): The stock is trading higher in London today after getting a Buy-from-Hold boost at Citigroup, which believes it is "well placed to benefit from incentives to upgrade local network infrastructure."

Legg Mason (LM): Reflecting its view that the outflows plaguing Western Asset Management appear to be stabilizing, FBR Capital upgrades Legg Mason to Market Perform from Underperform and takes its target up to $33 from $29.

Rail Stocks: KeyBanc Capital raises ratings on American Railcar Industries (ARII) and Greenbrier (GBX), both now Buy from Hold with respective price objectives of $18 and $22. The broker is seeing evidence of firming lease rates and sequential increases in rail car loadings.

Sirona Dental Systems (SIRO): The stock is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust.

Healthsouth (HLS): Raymond James raises its Healthsouth rating to Outperform from Market Perform.


Arch Coal (ACI): HSBC downgrades Arch Coal now Neutral from Overweight.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): The bank itself is cut to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette. For more on banks, see Noncurrent Loans Plague Community, Regional Banks.

Dreamworks Animation (DWA): Janney Montgomery Scott moves Dreamworks Animation to Neutral from Buy.

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE): Keefe Bruyette cuts Intercontinental Exchange to Market Perform from Outperform.

Riverbed Technology (RVBD): The tech stock is reduced to Neutral from Overweight by Piper Jaffray.

CF Industries (CF): UBS lowers CF Industries, now Sell from Neutral.

Energy Stocks: Morgan Stanley moves Patterson-UTI (PTEN), Apache (APA), and Chesapeake Energy (CHK), all to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Ulta Salon (ULTA): Jefferies downgrades Ulta Salon to Hold from Buy, while maintaining its $25 target, due to valuation.

HCP, Inc. (HCP): Jefferies also takes HCP Inc to Hold from Buy.

RadioShack (RSH): The electronics retailer gets removed from the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs.

Hasbro (HAS): The stock is downgraded to Buy from Strong Buy at Needham.

Brown Shoe (BWS): BWS could drop after a Hold-from-Buy cut at Soleil Securities.

GOL Linhas Areas Inteligentes S.A. (GOL): The stock is cut to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

Sara Lee (SLE): Sara Lee sees a valuation based Hold-from-Buy downgrade at Standpoint Research.

Boston Scientific (BSX): The stock is downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JP Morgan.
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