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New Stock Coverage: Ascena Doesn't Need a Spark to Be Barn Burner


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

One mustn't lump all Hump Days together, as the most spectacular streak in the history of equities came when the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) rose on a remarkable 24 successive Wednesdays in America's otherwise annus horribilis of 1968. The last two iterations have, however, been deadly dull. Exactly a week after the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) ended up all of 0.002%, the bourse fell precisely 0.1 point after trading in a range tighter than a Scotsman's wallet. (And, adding insult to considerable injury, Camel cigarettes owner Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) was the benchmark's single poorest performer with its 3.57% plunge.) They say memory is the power to grow roses in winter, but markets moved lower after Roseland, New Jersey-based Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP) fingered freezing temperatures for a punk private payroll report. (Truth be told, the Garden State endured a day to forget all around.) John Thain's toilet troubles at Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), in the news again, are now firmly behind the financial firm, which jumped 3.17% to continue its strong recent showing. One wonders how the Winklevii will evacuate their bladders in outer space, now that they have signed up to "slip the surly bonds of Earth" with two-Bit(coin) pirate Richard Branson. Ah, apparently there is now an app even for that.

Today in economics, factory orders for January are forecast to post an improvement from the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the corporate front, expect earnings announcements out of Costco (NASDAQ:COST), H&R Block (NYSE:HRB), and Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS).

Alon USA Partners (NYSE:ALDW): Barclays launches the limited partnership at Underweight.

Ascena Retail Group (NASDAQ:ASNA): The Dress Barn owner is picked up with a Positive at Susquehanna, whose target price is $24.

Boston Properties (NYSE:BXP): Goldman Sachs resumes the office Real Estate Investment Trust at a Buy.

Empire State Realty Trust (NYSE:ESRT): The owner of New York's iconic building gets begun with a Neutral, also at Goldman.

Nordson (NASDAQ:NDSN): Robert W. Baird has a new Neutral on the diversified machinery name.

Tech Stocks: Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) is begun with a Buy at B. Riley, which assigns a new Neutral on Dow member Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

Tractor Supply (NASDAQ:TSCO): Shares are established at Outperform with Wedbush, whose price objective is $80.

Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE:VNO): Goldman Sachs starts the stock at a bullish Conviction Buy.

See also:

Stock Upgrades: Tiffany Set to Sparkle (MVPRO article)

Stock Downgrades: Spark Networks Loses That Loving Feeling (MVPRO article)
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