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Upgrades & Downgrades: Can Sprint Make a Run?


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Stocks shrugged off a surprising decline in consumer confidence from the University of Michigan (or was it Ohio?) to finish higher Friday on light volume and end a second successive winning week. Disney (DIS) plumped up to a 52-week high after impressive earnings (see also Why Now Is a Good Time to Play Disney), though the mirth of Mickey Mouse must have been mitigated upon discovering the girth of his cousins, as The Economist announced using language unbecoming of its origins in uptight Victorian England. Masochism knew no bounds as a bidder brandished big bucks to wrap themselves in Madoff and the 70-92 Mets. And while Sesame Street celebrated turning 40 it wasn't such a great week for The Electric Company; after acquiring Beckham for more than it cost to buy Bear Stearns apparently the LA Galaxy had little left for lights.

At 8:30AM Eastern retail sales for October increased 1.4%; ex-autos were up a less than expected 0.2%. Separately, the Empire Manufacturing index for November fell to a 23.51, a steeper than anticipated decline. Earnings announcements include Assured Guaranty (AGO), General Motors, Lowe's (LOW), and Pacific Sunwear (PSUN).


Dell (DELL): The tech stock gets resumed at Buy by Goldman Sachs. More on this name in HP's Deal With 3Com Was Behind the Curve.

Research In Motion (RIMM): The stock is initiated with a Hold and $66 target price at Auriga, citing opportunities in the worldwide growth of smart phones.

Lear Corp. (LEA-WI): Deutsche Bank begins Lear Corp at Buy ($77 price objective) due to its increasingly compelling valuation.

FBR Capital Markets (FBCM): The stock is assumed with a Buy at Sandler O'Neill, which sets a $9 target.


Retailers: Goldman raises retailers Nordstrom (JWN) and Coach (COH) ($42 target), both now Buy from Neutral.

Sprint Nextel (S): The mobile company is increased to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse, which says core subscribers should grow by over 300,000 for 2010. For an opposing view, see Why Verizon and AT&T Are Leaving Sprint in the Dust.

Real Estate: Ventas (VTR) and Senior Housingare (SNH) are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel Nicolaus.

American Superconductor (AMSC): Raymond James raises its rating on American Superconductor (Strong Buy from Outperform).

Eagle Bulk Shipping (EGLE): Deutsche Bank's somewhat more upbeat outlook on the dry bulk sector (see also Two Ways to Play: Deutsche Bank Upgrades Dry Bulk Shipping) sees it upgrade Eagle Bulk Shipping to Hold ($4.50 target) on a belief near-term fundamentals point towards continued fourth quarter day rate upside.

United Rentals (URI): The stock gets an Outperform-from- Perform upgrade out of Oppenheimer as it is well positioned to weather a potentially prolonged downturn.

Illinois Tool Works (ITW): Morgan Stanley upgrades Illinois Tool Works (Overweight from Equal-weight).

Pharmaceuticals: Deutsche Bank initiates Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) (Buy), AstraZeneca (AZN) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) (Hold on each). For more, read For Big Pharma, Diabetes Means Big Business.

Ann Taylor (ANN): Jesup and Lamont upgrades Ann Taylor to Buy from Hold.

Steel Stocks: JP Morgan adds US Steel (X) and AK Steel (AKS) to its Focus List of select stocks.


Nucor (NUE): By contrast it's kryptonite for Nucor, cut from the Focus List at JP Morgan.

Retailers: Goldman cuts JC Penney (JCP) (Sell from Neutral; $32 objective) and Dollar Tree (DLTR) (Neutral from Buy; $54).

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