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Upgrades & Downgrades: Win With Wynn?

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Stocks stopped to catch their breath after recent robust rallies, but the Dow did post a fifth straight gain to end at its best level since October of '08. For the market overall, optimistic investors say yesterday was just "the pause that refreshes." (Conversely Coca-Cola (KO), which once employed that phrase in its advertising, is in no need of a rest after it rose to a yearly peak.) Tiffany (TIF), the retailer no longer a rough diamond, also sits atop a 52-week high though J-Lo, who once talked of "the rocks that I got" there, has had better days. And where once William Shatner caused controversy as an infinitive splitting Captain Kirk, in his incarnation as a mouthpiece for Priceline (PCLN) (+17.55%) expect him to agitate for stock splitting after the shares boldly went to Pluto (a.k.a. an all-time high). See also What You Can Learn from Priceline's After-Hours Action.

A world away DR Horton (DHI) (-3.63%) hears a boo while Fluor (FLR) (-7.56%) hopes a floor has been reached, rather than breached, on the stock. It was exactly 91 years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, that the guns of August finally fell silent and the First World "War to end all wars" (for a while) concluded on a November night. The bond market is closed in observance of Veterans Day and Advance Auto Parts (AAP), Applied Materials (AMAT), Computer Sciences (CSC), Flowers Foods (FLO), Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR), ING Group (ING), Macy's (M), and Progressive (PGR) all announce earnings.

Initiations

Hyatt Hotels (H): Recent IPO Hyatt Hotels is initiated with an Underperform at Sanford Bernstein.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN): The casino company gets resumed with a Buy at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.

Education Management Corporation (EDMC): Bank of America/Merrill Lynch also begins coverage of Education Management Corporation at Buy with a $26 price target. The broker believes "on-ground campus expansion, new program additions, and online growth" all augur well for EDMC, which is America's second largest publicly-traded traded for-profit education company by revenue. A slew of other initiations on this name include Piper Jaffray, Barclays (each Overweight) and BMO Capital (Market Perform). For more on this sector, see Three Better Stock Picks than New Oriental Education.

Upgrades

FPL Group (FPL): Citigroup raises its rating on FPL Group to Buy from Hold and increases its price objective by $3 to $58 on undue regulatory pessimism in the name.

Fluor Corp: Citigroup is also increasing Fluor Corp to Hold from Sell after earnings as the shares are now trading at a discount to historical levels. The objective increases to $50 from $44.

Microchip Technology (MCHP): The stock is upgraded to Neutral from Sell and removed from the Americas Sell list at Goldman Sachs.

Columbia Sportswear (COLM): Columbia is upgraded to Neutral from Negative at Susquehanna Financial.

Toll Brothers (TOL): Wells Fargo upgrades Toll Brothers to Outperform from Market Perform.

Smithfield Foods (SFD): Deutsche Bank gives Smithfield Foods a Buy-from-Hold boost, saying it sees a substantial improvement in hog production.

Downgrades

Tyson Foods (TSN): JP Morgan takes Tyson Foods to Neutral from Overweight. Potential upside is already accounted for at these levels and uncertainty persists with Pilgrim's Pride (PPC).

Axa (AXA): Axa gets the axe (Equal-Weight from Overweight) at Morgan Stanley due to its better risk/reward plays elsewhere in the sector.

JA Solar (JASO): The stock is downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets ($4 target) as oversupply and ASP declines are concerns for 2010.

Zions Bancorp (ZION): The financial is cut to Market Perform from Outperform at Morgan Keegan as capital concerns persist.

T. Rowe Price (TROW): Credit Suisse lifts T. Rowe Price (Outperform from Neutral; target taken to $60 from $55) after a meeting with management increased conviction in its retail and institutional net inflow strength.

GameStop (GME): The video game seller gets removed from the Americas Conviction Buy list at Goldman, though the Buy rating is intact.

Cytec (CYT): The stock is added to the Americas Conviction Sell list at Goldman.

Adobe Systems (ADBE): Oppenheimer downgrades Adobe Systems to Perform from Outperform after management's 9% headcount reduction.

Education Companies: DeVry (DV), Strayer Education (STRA), and ITT Educational Services (ESI) are all cut to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair.


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