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New Stock Coverage: IBM, Only Dow Loser Last Year, Still Suffering Big Blues

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

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A week that saw frigid temperatures across much of America and ended with Freeze Tag on Wall Street finished, fittingly enough, with US stock markets frozen in place. The Dow Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI), down 0.20%, and S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX), up 0.60%, barely budged as investors digested the December 2013 employment report. It showed that the labor force participation rate fell to 62.8%, a level we were last at in 1978, that unimaginably distant age back when this look was big. Blondie's "Hanging on the Telephone" was released that year and, with telecoms down 1.94% to post the poorest performance of all industry groups last week, traders took her lyrics a little too literally. Elsewhere Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ICPT) surged an astonishing 544.54% on upbeat news about its product to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, an unusual ailment in which even non-drinkers often suffer from cirrhosis of the liver. (The company ironically calls New York's Meatpacking District its home. That area is so full of bars, its liquid libations are about to inspire an upcoming sitcom.) Staying in the sector, Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX) jumped 15.73% after announcing it is buying Bridgewater, New Jersey-based Aptalis Pharma for $2.9 billion. (Please, no jokes about home state governor Chris Christie having a bridge to sell you.) And you just can't escape those gals from Brooklyn. No, not the ubiquitous Ms. Dunham & Co. But Rana Foroohar, who lives in the borough, and native daughter Janet Yellen, who she made Time magazine's latest cover girl.

There aren't any top-tier economic announcements to move US stock markets today. On the earnings front, agribusiness outfit Limoneira (NASDAQ:LMNR) missed Wall Street's earnings expectations when it released results earlier this morning.

Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE:BAH): Citigroup has a new Neutral on the consulting company. Its price objective is $19.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF): The stock, which endured an utterly awful 2013, is covered with a Hold at Brean Capital.

Ford Motor (NYSE:F) ISI Group has a new Strong Buy, and $22 target, on a stock that just enjoyed an excellent week.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ): Atlantic Equities assigns an Overweight on the tech titan.

Hilton Worldwide (NYSE:HLT): Hilton Worldwide, a stock that recently went public, is picked up with an Equal Weight assessment and $23 target price at Evercore.

International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM): International Business Machines was the only Dow stock to drop last year, tumbling 2.1% even as its index advanced 26%. The news is little better today, as it is assigned a decidedly lukewarm Neutral at Atlantic Equities.

NCR Corp (NYSE:NCR): JPMorgan starts the stock at Overweight and includes it on its Focus List of favored equities. As a result, shares are trading sharply higher ahead of today's opening bell.

ServiceNow (NYSE:NOW): Citing the company's opportunity in the Information Technology Service Management market, RBC Capital Markets starts the stock at Outperform. Its objective is $70.

Shutterfly (NASDAQ:SFLY): Shutterfly stock is an Outperform at RBC Capital, which sets it a $64 target. The brokerage hails its profitable business model. (Note that shares were separately downgraded by Barclays this morning.)

Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK): Shares are a new Overweight at Atlantic Equities.

See also:

Stock Upgrades: Carnival Goes From Waiving the Rules to Ruling the Waves

Stock Downgrades: A Decade on From Its 'Wardrobe Malfunction,' TiVo Is an Emperor Without Clothes
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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