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Upgrades & Downgrades: AMR Corp Flying High


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

Stocks scored good gains as continuing unemployment claims touched a one year low and Greeks and geeks both bore gifts. European aid to Athens alleviated investor nerves and Geeknet's 13.17% increase paced a broad based equity advance. Alcoa (AA) surged 3.19% in a commendable commodity tape; ahead of Valentine's Day who knew aluminum would do more to advance romance than engagement ring retailer Blue Nile (NILE), which swooned 13.05% after hours? Meanwhile World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which fell 1.17% on a day of triple digit gains, could use fresh leadership but new CIT (CIT) CEO John Thain is now otherwise engaged. Pity, for he has extensive experience in the ring.

Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker? As a seduction technique for Sunday this may be swell but it was at best a mixed bag as a stock picking strategy. Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) shares plumped up a solid 2.07% ahead of earnings but drinks giant Diageo (DEO) disappointed with a 6% drop in operating profit. A Deutsche Bank downgrade of Boston Scientific (BSX) sent the heart stent maker sliding 9.89%; Bill Clinton, who had to hastily abandon plans to spend Lincoln's birthday in the Lincoln Bedroom, felt their pain. And it was a busy day for Michael Jackson, who made both a beyond the grave appearance on We Are The World and a beyond the pale assertion that Toyota's (TM) impact on AutoNation (AN) will be "minor". Today in economics, expect February consumer sentiment at 9:55AM Eastern while Duke Energy (DUK), HCP Inc (HCP), Ingersoll-Rand (IR), Michelin, Nordic American Tanker (NAT), and ThyssenKrupp all announce earnings.


Miscellaneous: BMO Capital's been busy, initiating a battery of names including Netflix (NFLX) (Market Perform; $70 price objective), International Game Technology (IGT) (Market Perform; $20), Bally Technologies (BYI) (Outperform; $50) and (ACOM) (Outperform; $18).

Ryanair (RYAAY): Macquarie picks up Ryanair at Outperform.

JM Smucker (SJM): Bernstein begins JM Smucker with a Market Perform.

Under Armour (UA): Barclays initiates Under Armour at Overweight and establishes an objective of $30.

Satellite TV: JP Morgan rolls out coverage on Dish Network (DISH) (Overweight; $25 target) and DIRECTV (DTV) (Neutral; $33).

Pall Corp. (PLL): Jefferies picks up Pall Corp at a Buy and sets a $45 price target, the broker believing it is well positioned to benefit from improving industrial production activity in 2010.

Waters Corp. (WAT): Jefferies is less optimistic on Waters Corp, saying Hold and setting a $66 target, as the company's organic revenue trajectory is highly correlated with major pharmaceutical R&D spending growth, which is challenging.

Qwest Communications (Q): The stock is initiated at Neutral by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

Consumer Goods: Credit Suisse picks up Procter & Gamble (PG) (Outperform; $74 target), Colgate-Palmolive (CL) (Neutral; $87), and Clorox (CLX) (Neutral; $65).

Palm (PALM): The stock is initiated at Neutral by Wedbush Morgan, which sets a target of $10.50 as it recommends purchasing at a greater discount than is currently the case.


AMR Corp. (AMR): The airline stock gets a Buy-from-Hold increase at Stifel Nicolaus, which sets a $13 target. Favorable factors include reduced headline and network risk following JAL's decision to remain in oneworld.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG): Bank of America/Merrill Lynch (Buy from Neutral) and Jesup & Lamont (Hold from Sell) each increase Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Rio Tinto (RTP): Credit Suisse raises Rio Tinto (Outperform from Neutral) as near-term pricing momentum clearly favors the bulk commodity companies.

DR Horton (DHI): The stock is now Neutral from Underperform, also at Credit Suisse.

Marriott International (MAR): Oppenheimer moves Marriott International to Perform from Underperform and increases its objective to $25 from $19, following above-estimated earnings on strength in time-share sales. See also Four Reasons to Check In With Marriott.

PNC Financial (PNC): Deutsche Bank boosts PNC Financial to Buy from Hold with a higher target of $57 as its Tier 1 common capital levels are now a strong 81%.

FirstEnergy (FE): The stock gets a valuation-based increase at Jefferies (Hold from Underperform) following yesterday's steep sell off.

Viacom (VIA): Thomas Weisel takes Viacom to Overweight from Market Weight and raises its target to $35 from $32.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU): The Royal Bank of Scotland raises Alcatel-Lucent to Buy from Hold.

Pier 1 Imports (PIR): Claiming the market continues to overlook the company's significant EPS and cash generation potential, Oppenheimer increases Pier 1 Imports to Outperform from Perform and lifts its target to $9 from $3.50.

Expedia (EXPE): Kaufman upgrades Expedia (Buy from Hold, target up $1 to $28) on an expectation of continued strength in 2010 bookings as they gain market share.

Research In Motion (RIMM): The tech stock is raised to Top Pick from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets.

Qualcomm (QCOM): The stock gets an Outperform-from-Sector Perform upgrade at FBN Securities.


3M (MMM): Dow component 3M is now Underperform from Neutral at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, which maintains its $90 target.

Symantec (SYMC): Saying McAfee has won the contract to embed its anti-malware products on all of Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) consumer PCs, Jefferies takes Symantec to Hold from Buy and trims its target to $18 from $20.

UAL Corp (UAUA): The stock is lowered to Hold from Buy at Jesup & Lamont due to valuation. For a related article see Which Airline Stocks Still Have Room to Fly.

Blue Nile (NILE): The jeweler is now Sell (from Hold) at Benchmark as it appears luxury items such as diamond engagement rings may not recover materially beyond easy comparisons.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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