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Upgrades & Downgrades: Opening Bid for Online Retailers


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

On another day of excruciatingly light volume the S&P 500 rose all of 0.2%, the Dow gained a scant 0.3%, and Nasdaq ended up only 0.4%. Slim pickings for news? Hardly, especially for Messrs. Slim and Pickens. A second straight day of gains was good enough to move markets to fresh 15-month highs as oil fell for a fourth successive session. MannKind (MNKD) had one giant leap of 16.52%, an okely dokely development for all except Flanders (FLDR), which tumbled a further 12.64%. The White House pledged $100 million to impoverished Haitians and Wall Street pledged $145 billion to the increasingly hated.

In early morning activity, JP Morgan (JPM) just announced earnings which comfortably beat the Street as fourth quarter profit quadrupled. A revenue miss and some softness in fixed income trading, however, indicates it hasn't entirely put the financial crisis to bed. Which, given an alleged history of bed bugs, may be for the best. See also Two Ways to Play: JP Morgan's Earnings Are Up, But Caution Remains. At 8:30 AM Eastern, December's consumer price index came in up 0.1% on both the overall and core rate as inflation remains under control. Separately, the January Empire Manufacturing Index rose sharply to 15.92.


Online Retail: (AMZN) is begun with a Buy at MKM Partners, while eBay (EBAY) gets a Neutral. See the related story, P&G Webstore Pits It Against Retailers.

Rentech (RTK): The stock's shares are sharply higher ahead of the open after Brean Murray began it at a Buy with a $2.50 target on a belief its strategy is unique among clean tech names.

Data Storage: Barclays picks up both Western Digital (WDC) (Equal-weight) and Seagate Technology (STX) (Overweight).

Regions Financial (RF): Robert Baird assumes coverage on Regions Financial at Neutral.

Logic Devices: Altera (ALTR) is initiated at a Neutral by Broadpoint Research while Xilinx (XLNX) gets a Buy.

CSX Corp (CSX): The stock is initiated with an Outperform at Raymond James.


Intel (INTC): The tech stock is upgraded to Buy from Hold ($25 target) at ThinkEquity Partners after yesterday's impressive earnings. For more, see Intel and Qualcomm Battling for Supremacy.

Kellogg (K): Bank of America/Merrill Lynch lifts Kellogg to Buy from Neutral and takes its target price to $62 from $55.

Freeport McMoRan (FCX): BMO Capital boosts Freeport McMoRan to Outperform from Market Perform.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): Deutsche Bank raises its HSBC Holdings rating to Buy from Hold.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD): The chipmaker is taken up at FBR Capital (Outperform from Market Perform) based on AMD's accelerating move to decouple itself from GlobalFoundries.

Discovery Communications (DISCA): The stock is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan; its target raised to $35.

Staples (SPLS): The stock is now Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan.


SAP AG (SAP): German software giant SAP may find its strength sapped after getting an Equal weight-from-Overweight cut at Morgan Stanley, which says additional top line investment is needed.

Rio Tinto (RTP): The miner is moved to Hold from Buy by Citigroup due to valuation.

Energy Stocks: Morgan Stanley downgrades Teco Energy (TE) (Equal Weight from Overweight), Southern Company (SO), Consolidated Edison (ED), and Duke Energy (DUK) (all now Underweight from Equal Weight).

Total SA (TOT): ING Group takes oil titan Total SA to Hold from Buy.

Vale SA (VALE): The stock is now Underperform from Neutral at BNP Paribas.

Alaska Air (ALK): Jesup & Lamont downgrades Alaska Air (Hold from Buy) as the shares have hit the firm's $37 price target.

China Automotive Systems (CAAS): Merriman downgrades China Automotive Systems (Neutral from Buy).

Novo Nordisk (NVO): The stock is now Hold from Buy at Jefferies due to increased downside risk.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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