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Upgrades & Downgrades: Amazon Feels the Love

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Stocks rebounded sharply on upbeat earnings and economics, with Leading Indicators posting their strongest six month performance since 1983. Amazon.com's (AMZN) after-hours surge on stellar third quarter results took it over a level last seen in December 1999, a Time when the Internet poster child was a fresh faced cover boy. Diaper and Kleenex manufacturer Kimberly-Clark (KMB) jumped 5.70% after the prospect of Octomom and a father of eight pairing up turned America to tears. In the wake of The Wall Street Journal informing us of an association between housework and hormones, automated cleaning contraption company iRobot (IRBT) immediately increased 16.77%.

Prominent pie throwers and recipients made waves within hours of each other, Yankees starting pitcher AJ Burnett humbled in Anaheim as Soupy Sales said so long when asked to hang on. Fortune Magazine plans to publish approximately a quarter fewer issues going forward and Fortune Brands (FO) released results today along with -- unusually for a Friday morning -- Microsoft (MSFT). See also Why Microsoft's Windows 7 Won't Be Any Better than Vista. Among other earnings announcements are Eastman Chemical (EMN), Exelon (EXC), Honeywell (HON), Schlumberger (SLB), Volvo, and Whirlpool (WHR), while strong September existing-home sales data are expected at 10:00 AM Eastern.

Initiations

Oil Stocks: Exxon Mobil (XOM) (Buy; $90 price target), Chevron (CVX) (Buy; $105), ConocoPhillips (COP) (Hold) and Marathon Oil (MRO) (also a Hold, $40 price objective) are initiated at Soleil.

Whole Foods (WFMI): More of your paycheck may be needed to purchase Whole Foods shares after Cowen assumes coverage at Outperform.

Vodafone (VOD): The stock is begun with a Buy at ING Group.

Molex (MOLX): UBS picks up coverage of Molex (Neutral) and establishes a price objective of $23.

Upgrades

eBay (EBAY): The online auctioneer is upgraded at Argus to Buy from Hold ($32 target) which cites the planned Skype sale as a positive.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO):Changing your mind is a good thing for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, increased to Neutral from Underweight at JP Morgan five weeks after a downgrade by the same broker. Target price is now $5.50 from $5.00. Downside is seen as limited at these levels.

Amazon.com: Hard to see the forest for the trees at Amazon today, upgraded by Barclays (Overweight from Equal-Weight), FBR Capital (Outperform from Market Perform) and Jefferies (Buy from Hold). For a contrarian view, see Why Barnes & Noble May Have a Kindle Killer.

Legg Mason (LM): The stock gets a lift to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Telecom: European telecom titans Ericsson (ERIC) (Conviction Buy from Neutral) and Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) (Buy from Neutral) are increased at Goldman Sachs.

Downgrades

Chubb (CB): The stock gets lowered to Neutral from Buy by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, though the target is taken up $2 to $58.

Potash Corp. (POT): CIBC World Markets downgrades Potash Corp. (Sector Perform from Outperform).

CONSOL Energy (CNX): This stock is cut to Hold from Buy at Brean Murray after its earnings miss.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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