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Stock Upgrades: Flowers Foods Is No Bimbo

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

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Stocks surged after an increasingly acrimonious standoff remarkably ended without bloodshed on Sunday. But enough about Mohamed El-Erian, for whom March 16 marked the official exit from the Bill Gross gilded cage. No, it was the weekend's rigged, but relatively peaceful, referendum in Crimea that inspired the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) to a triple-digit gain. If many of Putin's enemies will still be sent to Siberia for their "sins," wayward Tony Hayward -- who was banished there in his post-BP Plc (NYSE:BP) purgatory -- isn't complaining after his new employer Glencore Xstrata (OTCMKTS:GLNCY) advanced 2.84%. Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) rose 1.89% after announcing it will spin off Lands' End. Lands' End or Land's End? A recent New Yorker cartoon perfectly encapsulates how I feel about rogue apostrophes. It definitely didn't pay to be wishy-washy with your punctuation on a day Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) jumped 4.02%, even as Guess? (NYSE:GES) ended off 0.28%. And they say "dying is easy, comedy is hard," but is that really the case? Admittedly, casket maker Hillenbrand (NYSE:HI) levitated 1.46% to hit an historic high as it partied like an Irish wake on Saint Patrick's Day. But reports that Seinfeld's nemesis Newman had expired proved peskily premature. This, even as Jerry failed to kill it with his joke at Jos. A. Bank's (NASDAQ:JOSB) expense. Last week, an utterly awful one in equities, its stock surged 5.08% after being bought by Men's Wearhouse (NYSE:MW) for $1.8 billion.
 
This morning the Federal Open Market Committee starts a two-day policy meeting, its first under Janet Yellen's leadership. In earnings action, Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), Hertz (NYSE:HTZ), and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) all release results.
 
Alliance Fiber Optic (NASDAQ:AFOP): B. Riley & Co. raises its recommendation to Buy from Neutral.
 
BAE Systems (OTCMKTS:BAESY): Shares are boosted to Outperform from Perform at RBC Capital, which says the recent sell-off presents a compelling buying opportunity.
 
Flowers Foods (NYSE:FLO): The baker, which once went toe-to-toe with Mexico's Grupo Bimbo (OTCMKTS:GRBMF) in the bloody Twinkies war, gets upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital.
 
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ): Shares are currently trading up 2.10% after being boosted to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays, which also increases its price objective by $5 to $38. The bank believes Hewlett's x86 servers offer particular promise.
 
LATAM Airlines (NYSE:LFL): Bank of America Merrill Lynch raises its rating on the aerospace outfit to Buy from Neutral.
 
L-3 Communications (NYSE:LLL): LLL is lifted to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital, which also takes the target price to $120 from $107. Catalysts include the outlook for US defense expenditures.
 
Marketo (NASDAQ:MKTO): The stock is now Neutral from Sell at UBS.
 
Nabors Industries (NYSE:NBR): Credit Suisse hoists the oil services company to Neutral from Underperform. Its objective, previously $12, increases all the way to $22.
 
Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS): Shares get upgraded to Sector Perform from Underperform at CIBC World Markets, which moves its price target to $15.25 from $10.
 
Universal Health Services (NYSE:UHS): KeyBanc Capital Markets boosts the equity to Buy from Hold.
 
Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Wynn Resorts Prettier Than a Picasso?

Stock Downgrades: Even Archie Bunker Can't Save Astoria Financial


No positions in stocks mentioned.
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