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Upgrades & Downgrades: Toasting Bud With a Buy Rating


Maybe the experts know something we don't know.

For the loneliest number, one sure has a lot of company. A one point gain took the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to within one percent of its retracement level while one dollar will suffice as a salary for Citigroup's (C) CEO. Investors sold sex and bought Saks (SKS), Playboy (PLA) plunging 14.23% to put Hef in a huff even as the upscale retailer rose 4.06% after swinging to an unexpected profit. While Wall Street ended at session highs, on a day of otherwise modest market gains Jacob's Engineering (JEC) (-14.51%) will require Jacob's Ladder to climb back to where it was after suffering the S&P 500's steepest plunge. And as assorted investment outfits try on a new suit for size, a seller of shirts, socks, and shoes to generations of aspiring Gordon Gekkos from his flagship financial district store said goodbye with a Sy; it is sad indeed that we will see Seymour no more.

In 8:30 AM Eastern economic announcements, October inflation came in above forecast for both headline (0.3%) and core (0.2%) CPI - bad news for the guy who is attempting to pay his library fees fifty years late -- while housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 529,000. Another day of retail-heavy earnings announcements include Ahold, Donaldson (DCI), Gymboree (GYMB), Hot Topic (HOTT), Jack in the Box (JACK), Limited Brands (LTD), Mitsubishi, NetApp (NTAP), Netease (NTES), PetSmart (PETM) (see also Why Petsmart Looks Like a Smart Bet), and Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH).


Coal Stocks: HSBC initiates coal companies CONSOL Energy (CNX) (Neutral, price objective of $50), Massey Energy (MEE) (Neutral; $40 tgt), Peabody Energy (BTU) (Overweight; $57 tgt) and Arch Coal (ACI) (Overweight; $30).

Baxter International (BAX): The stock is initiated at Market Perform by Morgan Keegan.

Sybase (SY): JP Morgan starts Sybase at an Overweight.

CR Bard (BCR): Morgan Keegan assumes coverage of CR Bard at Outperform, citing approximately 15 new products slated for launch by the end of 2012.

Becton Dickinson (BDX): The stock is also begun with Outperform at Morgan Keegan as margin expansion remains on schedule.

Cerner (CERN): Robert Baird starts Cerner at Neutral ($89 target price) as health care IT sector valuations appear elevated.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD): The brewer is initiated with a Buy at Stifel Nicolaus.


Pulte Homes (PHM): Citigroup upgrades Pulte Homes to Buy from Hold, taking its target price to $12 from $11.

Smith International (SII): Citigroup is also upgrading Smith International (Buy from Hold) after yesterday's steep stock drop.

Rockwell Automation (ROK): HSBC raises its Rockwell Automation rating (Overweight from Neutral) and lifts its target by $5 to $53.

Cheesecake Factory (CAKE): The restaurant stock is up before the bell after being added to the Americas Conviction Buy list at Goldman Sachs.

First Solar (FSLR): is increased to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.


Research in Motion (RIMM): The tech giant is reduced to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital, which lowers the target to $64 from $100.

Target (TGT): Goldman takes Target to Neutral from Conviction Buy due to an increasingly assertive Walmart (WMT) crimping margins. See also Don't Let Retail's Flashing Lights Fool You.

SunPower (SPWRA): Janney Montgomery Scott drops Sunpower to Neutral from Buy. For more, see Shining a Light on SunPower's Books.

Jacobs Engineering: The stock gets a Hold-from-Buy cut at Wunderlich Securities after its earnings miss. The target is now $38, down from $52.

Tech Stocks: Seagate Technology (STX) ($15 objective) and Western Digital (WDC) ($35) are both downgraded to Underperform from Buy by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.

Coventry Health Care: The stock gets added to Goldman's Americas Conviction Sell list. (BIDU): The tech stock is removed from Americas Conviction Buy list at Goldman, though the Buy rating remains intact.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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