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Upgrades & Downgrades: Burger King Beefs Up


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Equities, in The Hurt Locker a year ago, ended in The Green Zone on St. Patrick's Day as broad based gains sent the Dow up a seventh straight session, its best streak since August. Jack in the Box (JACK) jumped up 5.10% on an analyst upgrade and ex-analyst Jack Grubman, whose motivation behind an upgrade was once a bit out of the box, pocketed $20 million. Blockbuster (BBI) tumbled 29.18%, seemingly set to join toxic Texan twin Enron in bankruptcy, and with a 20 year movie deal between the two only halfway through. The company can at least console itself in the knowledge that Chapter 12 will likely involve a blockbuster on Broadway.

Ford (F) climbed 4.52% to a fresh five-year high, besting the 4.39% increase of Lincoln National (LNC) in a result which already has presidential rankers requesting a recount. And though it didn't dent the stock, Boeing's (BA) autopilot angst will have elicited a grave response from the recently passed Peter Graves, who knew all about plastic pilots. Today in economics, February leading indicators and this month's Philadelphia Fed Index are each out at 10:00AM Eastern. On the corporate front earnings are expected out of Cintas (CTAS), FedEx (FDX), GameStop (GME), Palm (PALM), Ross Stores (ROST), Shoe Carnival (SCVL), Stein Mart (SMRT), and Winnebago (WGO).


Joy Global (JOYG): Morgan Stanley starts Joy Global with an Equal Weight.

Bryn Mawr Bank (BMTC): Keefe Bruyette begins Bryn Mawr Bank at Market Perform.

SuperMedia (SPMD): Oppenheimer initiates SuperMedia with an Outperform and sets a price target of $50, saying the publisher of yellow page directories generates significant free cash flow.

Exchange Stocks: Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ) is now covered at Outperform with JMP Securities, which has a $25 target, while NYSE Euronext (NYX) is assigned a Market Perform.

Semiconductor Stocks: Macquarie starts the US semiconductor sector. New Neutrals include Intel (INTC), Nvidia (NVDA), and Maxim Integrated Products (MXIM). Texas Instruments (TXN) and Analog Devices (ADI) are among the Outperforms while National Semiconductor (NSM), Micron (MU), and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are all Underperform.

Shanda Games (GAME): Cowen now covers Shanda Games at a Neutral.

Wabash National Corp (WNC): The stock is up almost 10% in pre-market trading after being begun at a Buy with Sterne Agee, which sets a $14 target.


Burger King (BKC): Deutsche Bank upgrades Burger King to Buy from Hold, citing improving franchise relations among other factors. For more on this sector, see Thirteen Things You Didn't Know About McDonald's.

Corning (GLW): Thomas Weisel takes Corning to Overweight from Market Weight.

Energizer (ENR): Just in time for Easter, JP Morgan gives the Energizer bunny a boost to Overweight from Neutral.

Broadcom (BRCM): The stock gets a Buy-from-Neutral increase at Goldman Sachs.

Statoil (STO): Goldman also raises its rating on Statoil, now Buy from Neutral.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD): Goldman removes Advanced Micro Devices from its Conviction Sell list.

Avis Budget Group (CAR): Barclays lifts Avis Budget Group to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Brown-Forman (BF.B): The stock is now Neutral from Sell at UBS.

LSI Corp (LSI): Kaufman lifts LSI Corp to Buy from Hold and increases its price objective to $8 from $5.50 after an analyst day that revealed healthy design win momentum.

Guess (GES): Lazard lifts Guess to Buy from Hold.

Nike (NKE): Shares of Nike are higher ahead of the open after an Outperform-from-Market Perform increase at FBR Capital. Its target is also taken up to $84 from $67 after earnings based on the company's near-term catalysts and unmatched financial flexibility.

DineEquity (DIN): The stock is now Buy from Neutral at SunTrust, with a price objective of $50.


Healthcare REITs: Robert W. Baird downgrades the Healthcare REIT space, saying the sector is at risk of investors rotating toward more cyclically sensitive property types if the economy improves. Among those cut to Underperform from Neutral are Health Care REIT (HCN), HCP Inc (HCP), and Ventas (VTR). See also What to Expect From Health-Care ETFs.

LSI Corp (LSI): Goldman lowers LSI Corp, now Neutral from Buy.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): FBR Capital cuts HSBC Holdings to Market Perform from Outperform on a belief the market will require further evidence before discounting growth prospects into the company's share price.

PetMed Express (PETS): The stock is in the doghouse with Piper Jaffray, now Neutral from Overweight.

Athenahealth (ATHN): Saying the risk/reward is now more negative, Oppenheimer downgrades Athenahealth to Underperform from Perform.

Drillers: Nabors Industries (NBR) and Helmerich & Payne (HP) are both pulled from the short-term Buy list at UBS.

Anadarko Petroleum (APC) is now Hold (from Buy) at Lazard. For more, see The Case for Cuban Oil.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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