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Upgrades & Downgrades: Barclays Gets a Boost

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Taking their cue from late summer footwear, stocks flip-flopped but ended up again yesterday. New home sales helped send shares slightly higher in volume which was thin, if not as thin as this newly listed apartment in the Big Apple. The Dow has now gained every single session since last Tuesday - seventh heaven, some might say. Though not for Hain Celestial (HAIN), whose stock slid 7.5%.

The Journal continues its theme of has-beens; after yesterday's article looking back on the bursting of the Beanie Baby bubble it turns today to Taylor Bean, the 12th largest US home mortgage lender now in its 11th (and last) chapter. Weekly jobless claims are out at 8:30 AM Eastern; apparently an ex-judge of American Idol won't be joining the ranks of America's idle. And it's D-Day for earnings as Dell (DELL) and Diageo (DEO) announce. For more on Diageo, see yesterday's Ticker Shock.

Initiations

Williams-Sonoma (WSM): Citigroup begins following Williams-Sonoma with a Buy rating and $21 price target, based on impressive inventory management and opportunities for market share gains.

Data Storage: Citi certainly isn't sleeping, also assuming coverage of storage stocks EMC Corp (EMC) and NetApp (NTAP) with Buys.

DineEquity (DIN): Investors in DineEquity face food for thought after Morgan Keegan launched with a Market Perform; industry competition and a levered balance sheet are cited.

Limited Brands (LTD): Robert Baird sees limited upside in Limited Brands, initiating it with a Neutral and price objective of $17. Second half results at Victoria's Secret should benefit from an improving merchandising mix but overall catalysts are absent.

Henry Schein (HSIC): Soleil takes a shine to Henry Schein, rolling out research on the healthcare company with a Buy.

Upgrades

Barclays (BCS): Keefe Bruyette, owner of a respected banks research franchise, boosts Barclays to Outperform from Market Perform.

Dollar Tree (DLTR): Barclays itself raises its rating on Dollar Tree to Overweight from Equal Weight after yesterday's impressive earnings saw the stock soar 4.6%, proving money does grow on trees. See Cheap Americans Are Here to Stay for more on this and other discount retailers.

Knight Transportation (KNX): Truckload play Knight Transportation could have a good day after a Neutral-from-Sell upgrade at UBS.

Monster Worldwide (MWW): A scary employment environment is a boon to Monster Worldwide; brokerage firm Oscar Guss picks up the stock with a Buy and $20 price target.

Downgrades

Jackson Hewitt (JTX): One of life's certainties seems a little less so this morning after Oppenheimer cut Jackson Hewitt Tax Service to Perform from Outperform. Concerns include valuation and its apparently underwhelming entrée into Walmart (WMT) stores.

National Fuel Gas (NFG): The stock could run out of steam after Argus reset its rating to Hold from Buy on valuation after a 73% share price increase since early March.

Alkermes (ALKS): This company gets a downgrade at Jefferies (Hold from Buy). The price target also comes down to $11.50 from $14 after Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) pulled the plug on a four week formulation of risperidone.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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