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Upgrades & Downgrades: Dell's Not So Swell

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Stocks avoided a horror show on Stephen King's 62nd birthday, though the Dow still dropped for a second day in three after September belatedly remembered its role as the market's scariest month. Ross Perot was all ears when Dell (DELL) announced its $3.9 billion acquisition of the firm he founded.

The FDIC chair may have to grin and Bair it while that institution contemplates the ultimate irony. Abbott and Costello get their inquiry answered at last -- Hu's on First Avenue as China's president prepares to meet Obama at the United Nations today amid a backdrop of soaring jets (and Jets). The FOMC begins its policy meeting and expect earnings out of CarMax (KMX), Carnival (CCL) and ConAgra (CAG).

Initiations

Best Buy (BBY): Thomas Weisel assumes coverage of Best Buy with a Market Weight. For more, see Why Best Buy Could be a Bargain.

PetSmart (PETM): PetSmart is started with an Overweight, also at Weisel.

Automatic Data Processing (ADP): The company gets picked up at Wells Fargo (Outperform).

Take Two (TTWO): ThinkEquity initiates Take Two with a Buy ($15 price target) on improved execution and a strong franchise portfolio. Steve Smith wrote about this sector in How to Play Video Game Stocks.

Upgrades

Macy's (M): "The world's largest store" scores an upgrade at Citigroup, as Macy's goes to Buy from Hold. The target is taken to $30 from $15 on improving margins.

Dish Network (DISH): Wells Fargo raises DISH Network to Outperform from Market Perform.

US Steel (X): X marks the Spot for US Steel, boosted by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch (Neutral from Underperform; price objective of $55).

Carnival: Cruise company Carnival is added to Bank of America's "Europe 1″ list of favored stocks.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ): The computer company is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse, which sees the upcoming analyst day as a catalyst.

Gymboree (GYMB): FBR Capital lifts Gymboree to Outperform from Market Perform (objective is $59 from $46) based on best-in-breed management.

Downgrades

Dell: Things aren't so swell for Dell, downgraded (Neutral from Outperform) at Credit Suisse. For an alternate view, see Why Dell's a Winner, With or Without Perot.

Perot Systems (PER): Jefferies lowers Perot Systems to Hold from Buy, while raising its target $11 to $30 after Dell's offer.

Martin Marietta Materials (MLM): The stock is cut to Neutral from Buy by UBS.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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