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New Stock Coverage: Priceline Goes to Pluto With Captain Kirk


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

This could be a profitable Canada Day for longtime Priceline Group (NASDAQ:PCLN) spokesman William Shatner, born in the suburbs of Montreal. The original Captain Kirk has already seen his stock options surge 45.42% this year alone, and shares are up again in advance of the opening bell on an upbeat analyst initiation. Last month Priceline splashed the cash by buying online restaurant reservation outfit OpenTable (NASDAQ:OPEN) for $2.6 billion.
Decades ago, English soccer star Gary Lineker said that "Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win." His timing was a little off -- yesterday they kept us waiting until the 92nd and 119th minutes to seal victory -- but the basic thesis is intact. A similar sense of certainty pervades the stock market, where the inexorably increasing S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) set, yes, 22 records in the first half of the year, and did so despite a wall of worry from Baghdad to the Black Sea. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), for its part, hit a World Cup team's worth 11 historic highs in the same period. As for Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC), its sixth straight quarterly increase is its best such streak since 2000. That one ended in tears, but why spoil the mood? Yesterday pending home sales posted their largest advance since April of 2010, the month that Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted. (Good luck getting a robot to spell that, Associated Press!) Newfangled photo firm GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO), after gaining 31% and 14% in its first two trading days, jumped another 13.4%. Enjoy the glory days while they last for as Eastman Kodak (NYSE:KODK) can attest after falling 4.04%, they never do. General Motors (NYSE:GM) gave back 0.87% after recalling cars dating all the way back to 1997, an altogether more barbaric age back when sports stars still bit opponents. Elsewhere the wealth gap kept Asia's richest man from sleeping and Marissa Mayer, who doesn't seem to have that problem, saw her Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) surge 2.57% on a broker boost.
Today in 10:00 a.m. EDT economic data, May construction spending and June's Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index are each expected to tick up. On the corporate front, Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX) is the pick of quarterly earnings announcements.
Now let's turn to this morning's new stock coverage, a list that includes a couple other online travel titans in addition to Priceline Group.

Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AGIO): Citigroup covers the company at a Buy. Its target price is $58.
Arista Networks (NYSE:ANET): Shares are assigned an Outperform rating and $77 price objective at RBC Capital, which hails market share increases and solid revenue gains.
Athlon Energy (NYSE:ATHL): Canaccord Genuity begins the equity at a Buy.
BPZ Energy (NYSE:BPZ): Brean Capital has a Hold, and $4 target, on the stock.
Coty Inc (NYSE:COTY): The cosmetics company is an Outperform ($19 objective) at BMO Capital.
Dolby Labs (NYSE:DLB): B. Riley & Co has a new Neutral on the name.
Garrison Capital (NASDAQ:GARS): GARS gets begun at a Buy with Wunderlich, which cites solid upside potential. Its price target is $16.50.
Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ICPT): Shares are an Outperform at RBC Capital amid its $5 billion-plus market opportunity in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
Online Travel: Oppenheimer establishes research on Priceline rivals Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) (Outperform; $90 objective) and Orbitz (NYSE:OWW) (Perform.)
Priceline Group: Today's headline equity is picked up with a bullish Outperform opinion at Oppenheimer, whose price objective is $1,450.
TechTarget (NASDAQ:TTGT): Jefferies has a Buy rating and $12 target on TTGT.
Also see:

Stock Downgrades: Xerox's Burns Gets the Third Degree

Stock Upgrades: Yo, Adrian! Netflix Doesn't Need Rocky to Pack a Punch
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