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Upgrades & Downgrades: Nokia Gets a Call


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Neither swimsuits nor stuffed shirts could keep stocks above water yesterday, though losses were light and volume low. Undoubtedly distracted by the closing belles, shares swooned in the final hour of a day when even life's two certainties seemed a little less so. Tax preparer H&R Block (HRB) fell 4.55% after a downgrade at Oppenheimer, while a mass murderer takes a suspiciously long time to kick the bucket. Campbell Soup (CPB) slid 1.27% after announcing earnings only Andy Warhol could love. Instead of crying in its tomato bisque the company could hire "Flying Tomato" Shaun White, fresh from Winter Olympics glory, as a spokesman.

By contrast Joe Public was Jonesing for Smith International (SII) -- up 8.83% on a takeover -- and Smith & Wollensky, which hosted a $1.7 million lunch Buffett. Subject of a front page story in The Wall Street Journal, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was in vogue and also, less predictably, in Vogue. Senators showed an iron will to enact a jobs bill although when even Monster (MWW) is announcing layoffs, irony will win out. Today in economics, expect the Conference Board's consumer confidence index for February at 10:00AM Eastern.


Williams-Sonoma (WSM): Sterne Agee starts Williams-Sonoma with a Buy and assigns a price objective of $25, as new merchandising strategies appear to be working.

CIT Group (CIT): Sterne also initiates CIT Group (Buy; $40 price target) as the broker believes that the company has the capital and liquidity to address its loan quality issues post-bankruptcy.

Nokia (NOK): Stifel Nicolaus begins Nokia at a Buy and sets a $16 target, saying that with nearly 40% market share in most developing markets Nokia will benefit from global handset volume growth over the next three years. See also The Missing Ingredient at Motorola, Nokia? Imagination.

Research In Motion (RIMM): The tech stock is initiated with a Buy at Stifel Nicolaus ($90 target) on a belief its segmentation strategy is differentiated versus Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) Android based platforms.

Palm (PALM): Stifel picks up Palm at a Hold as volumes could stagnate in 2010 due to increasing competition and potential ASP erosion.

Kraft (KFT): Credit Suisse resumes coverage on Kraft Foods with an Outperform and $35 target as investors are not giving the company credit for the $675 million in cost synergies from Cadbury (CBY).

First Solar (FSLR): Saying consensus estimates are at risk of downward revision Wunderlich starts First Solar at a Sell and assigns a $90 target.


Calpine (CPN): UBS upgrades Calpine, now Buy from Neutral.

Wilmington Trust (WL): Janney Montgomery Scott moves Wilmington Trust to Neutral from Sell.

Lamar Advertising (LAMR): Citing an improving ad market, increased visibility and strong expense management, Jefferies lifts Lamar Advertising (Hold from Underperform) and increases its price objective by $8 to $30.

Scripps Network Interactive (SNI): Barclays boosts Scripps Network Interactive to Overweight from Equal-Weight and takes their price target to $48 from $41.

China Life Insurance (LFC): HSBC hoists China Life Insurance, now Neutral from Underweight.

The Knot (KNOT): After its recent steep sell-off, The Knot is now Buy from Hold at ThinkEquity.

Occidental Petroleum (OXY): Argus increases Occidental Petroleum to Buy from Hold and establishes a price objective of $95. The broker believes the company's low cost structure and use of enhanced oil-recovery techniques to increase production and build reserves will ensure strong cash flow.


Campbell Soup (CPB): Deutsche Bank downgrades Campbell Soup to Hold from Buy after earnings and revenue which missed estimates. The new target is $35, down from $38.

H&R Block (HRB): Macquarie cuts H&R Block to Underperform from Neutral.

Mirant (MIR): The stock is moved to Sell from Neutral.

Discovery Communications (DISCA): Barclays downgrades Discovery Communications to Equal-Weight from Overweight while maintaining their $30 target.

Corning (GLW): Oppenheimer cuts Corning to Perform from Outperform, as it believes the LCD industry's prolonged rebuild cycle will likely peter out in the next couple of months.

Palm (PALM): Bank of America/Merrill Lynch lowers Palm to Underperform from Buy and halves its target price to $10. Palm is also downgraded at Macquarie, to Neutral from Outperform.

Louisiana-Pacific (LPX): The stock is now Underperform from Sector Perform at Scotia.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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