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Upgrades & Downgrades: Mixed Views on American Eagle

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Equities ended mixed in unusually tight trading. Buffett was a buffer against broader declines with his big railroad bet, but a downgrade of the semiconductor sector left Intel (INTC) (-2.68%) et al railing against the unfairness of it all. See also Inventory in Semiconductors Looking Lean. Hardware stores fared far better than software stocks; Stanley Works (SWK) (+10.06%) and Black & Decker (BDK) (+30.97%) moved up on their merger while Microsoft (MSFT) shed 1.26%, possibly on Seinfeld's sell out. Gold gapped up to another new nominal high and Madoff's ex-accountant found fuzzy math doesn't pay, Friehling filing a guilty plea for fraud.

As stocks stumbled to a split decision, so Wall Street alumni ended 1 for 2 in elections. Bloomberg's billions brought another term as Mayor of New York, albeit by a surprisingly slim margin, but Goldman's (GS) ex-CEO was DOA as New Jersey governor. Cy Vance Jr. wakes up to headlines today acclaiming him as Manhattan's new District Attorney, exactly 30 years after an event which precipitated his father's resignation as Secretary of State. And although there were no "Dewey Defeats Truman" premature political predictions in the nation's newspapers, its spirit is evidently alive and well in the sports pages of Philadelphia as the World Series resumes tonight in New York.

It's already been a manic morning in economics, with mortgage applications up for the first time in a month, planned layoffs at a 19-month low in the latest Challenger survey and ADP's private sector payroll report revealing a loss of 203,000 last month. Oil inventories and the October ISM services Index are released at 10 AM Eastern ahead of the Fed's interest rate announcement at 2:15 PM. Expect earnings out of Automatic Data (ADP), Baker Hughes (BHI), Becton Dickinson (BDX), Cisco (CSCO), Comcast (CMCSA), Devon Energy (DVN), El Paso (EP), Molson Coors (TAP), News Corp (NWS), Qualcomm (QCOM), Time Warner (TWX), Total (TOT), and Whole Foods (WFMI).

Initiations

Restaurants: A high calorie morning for analysts at Janney Montgomery Scott, starting coverage on Yum Brands (YUM) (Buy), McDonald's (MCD) and Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) (Neutrals on each).

Shanda Games (GAME): Fun and games for Shanda Games, initiated at Overweight by JP Morgan.

Diageo (DEO): Even though imbibing Guinness will grow your girth, Barclays begins Diageo at Underweight.

Upgrades

American Eagle (AEO): FBR Capital adds American Eagle to its Top Picks list based on a belief the company stands to gain from plaid's present popularity.

Viacom (VIA): Oppenheimer gives Viacom an Outperform-from-Perform upgrade and takes its target to $36 from $32 on an improving outlook.

JB Hunt (JBHT): The stock is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.

CR Bard (BCR): Deutsche Bank boosts CR Bard (Buy from Hold) due to favorable FX tailwinds, with a price objective of $88.

General Dynamics (GD): Credit Suisse raises its General Dynamics rating to Outperform from Neutral. See also In Defense of General Dynamics.

Emerson Electric (EMR): The stock is upgraded to Hold from Sell at Societe Generale.

Downgrades

Miscellaneous: Lazard is less sanguine on American Eagle, lowering it to Hold from Buy along with Callaway Golf (ELY), Guess (GES) and Jones Apparel (JNY), while resetting Saks (SKS) to Sell from Hold.

Con-way (CNW): No pros for Con-way, cut to Neutral from Buy by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.

Dolby Laboratories (DLB): JP Morgan downgrades Dolby Laboratories (Neutral from Overweight).

Burlington Northern (BNI): UBS risks the wrath of Warren as it takes Burlington Northern to Neutral from Buy after yesterday's big run.

Black & Decker: Barclays is downgrading Black & Decker (Equal Weight from Overweight).

L-3 Communications (LLL): Credit Suisse cuts L-3 Communications to Neutral from Outperform on its increased concerns related to the impact of an Iraq pull-out.


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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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