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Stock Upgrades: Citigroup Says OpenTable Is a Table-Pounding Buy

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

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The S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) breaks records and Bill Clinton is on front covers -- it really does feel like 1999 all over again. (Mercifully, Mr. Clinton's Fortune spread is much more tasteful than his incredibly unbecoming in-your-face Esquire effort while still a sitting, as it were, president. Really, Bubba, the country would have been far better off had you hid it under an OpenTable (NASDAQ:OPEN)). Indeed, yesterday even saw Autobytel (ABTL), poster child for the 1990s boom, surge 25.44% after having been dead money for a decade and a half. Of course, no one said sorry in quite the lip-biting manner of slick Willie, but Mary Barra may soon run him close. Yesterday she took her utterly unloved General Motors (NYSE:GM) to Capitol Hill for another heartfelt apology tour. This, as the Library of Congress officially honored Linda Ronstadt's Heart Like a Wheel. (Creedence Clearwater Revival was accorded an identical accolade, although most certainly not for Proud Mary.) Another president famously said that "a house of Morgan divided against itself cannot stand" (I quote from memory). Tell us about it. JP Morgan's (NYSE:JPM) Blythe Masters, who joined the firm in 1987, is bidding adieu. Meanwhile Morgan Stanley's (NYSE:MS) Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat, who came to her company in 1987, concurrently called for more female executives. 1987. There's an awful lot of that going around all of a sudden. Not superstitious. Just sayin'.
 
Today in economics, March's Institute for Supply Management services index is expected to tick up from February's pace at 10:00 a.m. EDT. On the earnings front, Global Payments (NYSE:GPN) and Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) each release results.
 
Acuity Brands (NYSE:AYI): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity, which also increases its price objective to $172 from $128.
 
Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY): Cowen lifts LLY to Outperform from Perform. The target price, previously $61, increases by $7.
 
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC): The key Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component is now Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.
 
Monsanto (NYSE:MON): Paging Carl Icahn? JP Morgan moves MON to Overweight from Neutral, saying that it sees a "reasonable possibility of an activist appearance." The world's largest seed company announced its earnings yesterday.
 
Newfield Exploration (NYSE:NFX): Shares are increased to Buy from Neutral at UBS, which takes its target to $37 from $26.
 
OpenTable: The aforementioned OpenTable gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost by Citigroup, which cites both a compelling current valuation and the online reservation outfit's relatively robust growth rates.
 
Sun Bancorp (NASDAQ:SNBC): Sterne Agee raises the stock, which surged some 11.17% on Wednesday, to Neutral from Underperform.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: X Marks the Sweet Spot for Xilinx

Stock Downgrades: It's Open Season on Citigroup

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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