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Stock Upgrades: Beam in High Spirits

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Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL While all eyes were on October 1987, last week instead turned back time to October 1989, when Japan bought Rockefeller Center and looked ascendant. Just in time for Halloween its zombie economy showed signs of life while Tokyo's Softbank (SFTBY) flexed its own muscles in acquiring a 70% steak in Sprint (S) for $20 billion, the country's biggest ever foreign acquisition. ArcelorMittal (MT) jumped 9.8% which will please its owner, who happens to be Europe's richest man. (That Europe's richest man is Indian says something about the continent's current troubles.)

Cuba lifted its stringent exit-visa requirements, resulting in ludicrously long lines at the Spanish embassy in Havana. Clearly the worst kind of Capitalist basket case is still seen as infinitely preferable to Communism. And you could do worse than take shelter from the rain in Spain under both Travelers (TRV) and Citigroup (C), which once went to war over an umbrella. Both stocks surged 7% on the week. Meanwhile Barbie's Mattel (MAT) reached a fresh 52-week peak on impressive earnings, although one wonders why she would ever want to stay with Ken.

No top-tier economic data due today, but the start of peak earnings week sees Caterpillar (CAT), Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX), Hasbro (HAS), Peabody Energy (BTU), Philips Electronics (PHG), SunTrust Banks (STI), Western Digital (WDC), and Yahoo (YHOO) all reporting results.

BB&T Corp. (BBT): Citigroup boosts the stock to Buy from Neutral with a $35 price target, citing the recent pullback in shares and increased transparency on its purchase accounting.

Beam, Inc. (NYSE:BEAM) Morgan Stanley moves the distilled spirits maker, whose brands include Courvoisier and Makers Mark, to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

Cablevision (CVC): Shares are up sharply before the bell on a boost to Buy from Hold at Canaccord amid improving financials.

Capital One (COF): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Rochdale Securities.

Carmike Cinemas (CKEC): The name is upgraded to Above Average from Average at Caris & Company.

Carrefour (CRRFY): The French firm is upgraded to Outperform from Perform by BNP Paribas.

International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF): IFF gets increased to Buy from Hold at Stifel Nicolaus.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KPM): Argus lifts the Limited Partnership to Buy from Hold with a $93 price objectives. Catalysts include strong growth prospects and solid cash flow distribution.

Meritor (MTOR): The auto parts outfit gets an Overweight-from-Equal Weight boost by Barclays.

SPS Commerce (SPSC): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord, whose price target is $45.

Texas Industries (TXI): TXI is taken to Neutral from Underperform at Sterne Agee.

Wright Express (WXS): Impressed by both improved third quarter earnings results and stable trends, JPMorgan increases its recommendation to Neutral from Underweight. Its price objective is also taken up, to $76 from $69.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Hoard up on Extra Space Storage and Stock Downgrades: Porsche Poised to Crash?)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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