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Upgrades and Downgrades: Analyst Not Willing To Gamble On Procter

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Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

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Inspired by the example of Chicago, which hosted its first mayoral race for 66 years without an incumbent on the ballot, Libya looks to be heading inexorably towards regime change. Getting there is a bloody business however, which is one reason why the S&P 500 Index fell 1.72% over four days as investors have become increasingly unnerved over the news in North Africa. The average thus broke a three week winning streak, posting its biggest drop in three months, even as consumer confidence came in at a three year high. The number three had a serious rival for digit of the week however, with oil prices and CBS Corp. (CBS) shares each increasing to a two and a half year high, even as the latter cancelled Two And a Half Men. In willingly walking away from revenue of $250 million, the Tiffany network and Warner Brothers proved money doesn't always talk. Even when it stammers, with The King's Speech winning Oscar gold -- a commodity which itself went up to within $15 of a new nominal peak -- in a the latest incarnation of the Academy Awards.

A ceremony which dates to 1929 -- not of course the stock market's most auspicious year. 2007 was a bit better, though noted trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book of that year presciently warned of unexpected dangers to come. In retrospect of course the sudden appearance of Icelander Björk in a swan dress on the red carpet many moons ago was an even more ominous omen about upcoming economic volcanoes from her country. The Black Swan star Natalie Portman duly won best actress, and even if The Social Network largely fell on its Facebook, a new clientele now appears to be hooked on it. H&R Block (HRB) surged 5.15% on Thursday, this after Intuit's (INTU) strong showing of the week before, while the loss of our last living link to World War One, showed again that life's two certainties, will always be with us. (Unless you are a Libyan terrorist with an apparently terminal illness). Today in economics, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for February is out at 9:45AM Eastern, with January pending home sales following fifteen minutes later. On the earnings front AES Corp (AES), Bayer, Edison International (EIX), HSBC Holdings (HBC), Live Nation (LYV), Luxottica (LUX), and Range Resources (RRC) are all due to report results.

Initiations

Comcast (CMCSA): The stock is reinstated with a Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Wolverine World Wide (WWW): WWW is initiated with a Buy at Keybanc, which has a $44 price target.

Upgrades

Potash (POT): Potash is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Gleacher, whose target is $74. Also read Ags Should Be Back to Highs in No Time.

Sunstone Hotel (SHO): SHO is upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital, which has a $14 objective.

Medicis Pharmaceutical (MRX): The stock is moved to Outperform from Market Perform at Bernstein. It's also raised to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray with a target of $38.

WellPoint (WLP): WLP is now Buy from Neutral at Davenport.

Humana (HUM): HUM is hoisted to Buy from Hold at Jefferies, with a price objective of $74.

Potash (POT): POT is up before the bell on a Buy from Neutral at upgrade at Gleacher.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A): The stock is upgraded to Hold at Stifel Nicolaus.

Healthcare Stocks: Tenet Healthcare (THC) is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS, along with LifePoint Hospitals (LPNT), Health Management (HMA), and Community Health (CYH).

Downgrades

Amazon.com (AMZN): AMZN is now Neutral from Buy at UBS, which takes its target down to $180 from $195. Also read Hey Netflix, Don't Let Amazon "Blockbuster" You.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS): EMS is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Citigroup.

Procter & Gamble (PG): Key Dow component Procter & Gamble gets downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital Markets, which has an objective of $70.

Lloyds Banking Group (LYG): LYG is lowered to Underperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

Seagate Technology (STX): The stock is taken to Underweight from Neutral at JP Morgan. Its target is $11.50.

Swift Energy (SFY): SFY is now Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

AEGON N.V. (AEG): UBS cuts AEGON to Neutral from Buy.

Morgans Hotel Group (MHGC): The stock is moved to Hold from Buy at Jefferies with a $10 target.

Rowan Cos (RDC): RDC is reduced to Sell from Reduce at Duncan-Williams. The broker notes the recent run up of the stock and the potential lowered earnings from a possible sale or spin off of the manufacturing segment and land rigs near term.

True Religion (TRLG): The stock is taken to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital on account of negative sentiment in the name and heavy short interest (20%) in the name.


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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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