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New Stock Coverage: On Columbus Day, It Pays to Discover


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

Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) snapped a two-week slump, with the financial world abuzz about a famous woman who graduated with high honors from Brown. But enough about Meredith Whitney. Janet Yellen, nominated to head the Fed, was Lady Luck for Mister Market as stocks advanced amid belated signs of progress in Washington. As we honor our Italian heritage today, the old country wasn't a bad way to bet. Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), whose Olive Garden ads are almost beyond parody, advanced 8.1% to top the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX). Pizanos may be eating less pasta, but Noodles & Co. (NASDAQ:NDLS) still surged some 7.43%, so that woman who plead guilty to robbing a bank with spaghetti sauce may have been on to something. (Just so long as the institution in question was Jos. A. Bank (NASDAQ:JOSB), which jumped 7.23% in the sort of showing that no Milanese tailor would want to tinker with.) Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG), whose da Vinci surgical robots honor an incomparable Renaissance master, rose 7.11%, and Telecom Italia posted a 6.98% increase. Alas the national air carrier -- affectionately known as "Always Late In Taking off And Late In Arriving" -- remains in deep ship. Perhaps it's still better to stick with the Pinta, Niña, and Santa Maria when planning your journey.

No economic data due today, and both banks and the bond market are closed for Columbus Day, but the first full week of earnings season begins with Brown & Brown (NYSE:BRO), Dassault Systems (OTCMKTS:DASTY), J.B. Hunt Transport (NASDAQ:JBHT), Packaging Corp. of America (NYSE:PKG), and Wintrust Financial (NASDAQ:WTFC) all expected to release results.

Acceleron Pharma (NASDAQ:XLRN): Shares are assigned a Buy at Citigroup.

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT): JPMorgan has a new Neutral on the tech name.

Benefitfocus (NASDAQ:BNFT): Jefferies begins a Buy on BNFT.

Capital One (NYSE:COF): The stock is resumed with a Buy at SunTrust, whose price objective is $81.

CIT Group (NYSE:CIT): The financial firm is a fresh Neutral at SunTrust. Its target price is $53.

Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS): Today it does indeed "pay to Discover" as the credit card company is assigned a bullish Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Five Prime Therapeutics (NASDAQ:FPRX): Jefferies starts the stock with a Buy.

Plantronics (NYSE:PLT): PLT gets picked up with a Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Semiconductor Equipment: JPMorgan launches Overweights on Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) and KLA-Tencor (NASDAQ:KLAC), establishing respective price objectives of $65 and $76.

Texas Capital (NASDAQ:TCBI): The regional bank is resumed with a Buy at Jefferies.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Liberty Interactive Is Open for Business and Stock Downgrades: Expedia Isn't Sailing the Ocean Blue.)
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