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Stock Upgrades: Dell Back From the Dead?


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Stocks edged up, gaining for a second straight week, despite John Boehner saying "We're almost nowhere" on fiscal cliff progress. The House Speaker thus displayed a shaky knowledge of the Thelma & Louise script, for the latter actually said "We're not in the middle of nowhere, but we can see it from here" before driving the duo's Thunderbird off the aforementioned cliff. Our current crisis is a mere molehill for Mark and Cindy Hill, who pocketed $294 million in Powerball, while Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR) similarly scaled the summit with a 30.97% surge. Groupon (GRPN) gained 17.01% on the week but, having slid approximately 78% in 2012, shares are still going for a song after Andrew Mason - a piano player whose music degree may not altogether qualify him to run a tech company - successfully faced the music. While Americans clip coupons, Europe buys bling it can ill afford, with Louis-Vuitton handbag maker LVMH Moët Hennessy (PINK:LVMUY) riding an analyst upgrade to hit its highest level since 1989. If nothing else, one must admire the financially troubled continent's unerring ability to make silk purses out of PIIGS' ears.

Today in economics, October construction spending and the Institute for Supply Management's November manufacturing survey are each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Geospace Technologies Corporation (GEOS), Korn/Ferry International (KFY), and Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack (PBY) are all expected to report results.

Agrium (AGU): Piper Jaffray juices its rating to Overweight from Neutral, citing potential operational improvements within the company's crop input distribution business. The target is also taken up by $12 to $122.

ARM Holdings (ARMH): Shares in the chip maker are up in London today after BNP Paribas boosted it to Outperform from Neutral.

Boston Scientific (BSX): JMP Securities moves the medical device maker to Outperform from Market Perform with a $9 price objective, impressed by an impressive product pipeline.

Canon (CAJ): The Japanese tech giant gets upgraded to Buy from Hold by BNP Paribas.

Computer Sciences (CSC): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Cowen , which cites an improved competitive position.

CubeSmart (CUBE): CUBE is now Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird.

Deckers Outdoor (DECK): The owner of Ugg footwear is up 8.4% before the bell on a boost to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee, which is heartened by both improved brand positioning and likely margin improvement.

Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL): The troubled PC maker, whose shares have tumbled 38.99% over the past 12 months, is up 5% ahead of today's opening bell after getting an unusual 180 degree (Buy-from-Sell) upgrade at Goldman Sachs. Catalysts include a potential Leveraged Buy Out opportunity. The new price target is $13, up from $9.

Ericsson (ERIC): RBC Capital raises its recommendation on the Swedish tech stock to Outperform from Sector Perform based on improving execution and a bottom in margins. The target is taken to $12 from $10.

Eaton Vance (EV): Goldman Sachs gives the money manager a Neutral from Sell upgrade on account of better flow outlook and fundamentals.

Finisar (FNSR): Shares are now Buy from Hold at Needham, which assigns an $18 price objective amid optimism for improvement in new product momentum.

Hawaiian Electric (HE): HE is hoisted to Neutral from Underperform at Macquarie, whose target is $25.

International Game Technology (IGT): IGT gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank, which lists free cash flow generation and beatable consensus estimates as positives.

Total S.A. (TOT): Deutsche Bank takes the oil giant to Buy from Hold, sending shares up today.

Utilities: Duke Energy (DUK) and NiSource (NI) are both upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Verizon (VZ): The Dow (^DJI) member is now Buy from Hold at Nomura.

Volkswagen (VLKAY): The German car giant gets upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

WhiteWave Foods (WWAV): Shares are boosted to Buy from Hold at Stifel Nicolaus.

Williams-Sonoma (WSM): Morgan Stanley moves the Pottery Barn owner to Overweight from Equal Weight.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Smucker Is in a Real Jam and New Stock Coverage: AT&T Not Making Money Talk.)
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