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Upgrades and Downgrades: American Eagle Soars

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Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

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Inspired by earlier examples from the White House to Tiger Woods', stocks crashed Friday, with equities enduring their worst percentage plunge of the month. Dubai discovered it's all downhill once desert ski slopes are deemed a spending priority. Though volume was predictably light post Thanksgiving, animal spirits were alive and well with Rino International (RINO) (+3.89%) and Deer Consumer Products (DEER) (7.43%) each closing at all time highs. By contrast the performance of Japanese restaurateur Benihana (BNHN) was nothing to bow about as it slid 40.8% to top Nasdaq laggards in a week where it and the Dow each ended slightly off. No such woes for gold, which was in the black by 3% and also in the red.

Guess (GES), Gerber Scientific (GRB), Steak n' Shake (SNS) and Telvent (TLVT) all announce earnings. In economics, the 9:45 AM Eastern November's ChicagoPurchasing Managers Index is expected to slip slightly.

Initiations

Auto Stocks: Goldman Sachs initiates European autos Volkswagen (VOW:BE) (ConvictionBuy) and Porsche (PAH3.MU) (Buy), saying industry catalysts include upcoming structural cost savings and a potential increase in sector consolidation.

Liberty Global (LBTYA): JP Morgan picks up Liberty Global with a Neutral.

AGA Medical Holdings (AGAM): Wells Fargo assumes coverage of AGA Medical at a Market Perform.

Upgrades


U.S. Steel (X): X marks the sweet spot for U.S. Steel, upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman. A depressed dollar allied to improved industrial and auto demand in 2010 are among factors cited in the broker's more bullish stance on the overall sector.

Deere & Co. (DE): Deere is bucking up before the bell after an Neutral-from-Underweight boost by JP Morgan, which says shares should perform "in-line" with the machinery space near-term. Wells Fargo upgrades Deere (Outperform from Market Perform) after its earnings beat.

AFLAC Inc. (AFL): AFLAC's duck can crow after Credit Suisse lifts it to Outperform from Neutral, taking the price target up $8 to $60 on an improvement in fundamentals.

American Eagle (AEO): American Eagle is increased to Buy at Lazard (LAZ) on accelerating sales.

Safeway (SWY): Morgan Stanley upgrades Safeway to Equal Weight from Underweight.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): Bank of America/Merrill Lynch lifts its HSBC Holdings rating to Buy from Neutral.

Juniper Networks (JNPR): Juniper Networks is increased to Buy from Neutral at Ticonderoga Securities on an improvement in next generation network IP spending.

U.S. Bancorp (USB): Robert Baird boosts U.S. Bancorp to Outperform from Neutral.

Genzyme (GENZ): Citigroup upgrades Genzyme to Buy from Hold, though the price objective falls $1 to $63.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF): FBR Capital upgrades Abercrombie & Fitch to Outperform from Market Perform.

Dreamworks (DWA): Dreamworks Animation is raised to Average from Below Average at Caris & Company; $31 target.

Downgrades

Copper & Gold: Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) gets cut to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman.

Baidu (BIDU): Bernstein lowers Baidu Inc. to Market Perform from Outperform on valuation.

Franklin Resources Inc. (BEN): Franklin Resources is downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Pali Research.

SUPERVALU (SVU): Morgan Stanley downgrades SUPERVALU, now Underweight from Equal-Weight.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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