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New Stock Coverage: Is the Cupboard Bare at the Pantry?


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

On a day dominated by discussion of food stamps, Wall Street's check was in the mail. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) dropped a Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI)-worst 1.78% after blaming cutbacks in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for another set of iffy earnings. But equities overall posted a strong showing, with Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) advancing for a ninth session in ten after Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) made a multi-billionaire of a Ukrainian immigrant who was once dependent on the same low-and-no income lifeline. Mark Zuckerberg's social network gained 2.31% despite not one, but two rating reductions by analysts who clearly felt $19 billion was a pretty penny to pay for a firm with $20 million in 2013 revenue. Indeed, the deal was the largest in the Internet industry since the ill-fated $124 billion combination of AOL Inc.(NYSE:AOL) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) in the last full year of Bill Clinton's presidency. When Bubba first ran for Commander in Chief in 1992, Pat Buchanan dismissed him as an Arkansas upstart whose "foreign policy experience was confined to having once had breakfast at the International House of Pancakes." A diss apparently best served cold, after IHOP owner DineEquity (NYSE:DIN) advanced 3.47% on a broker boost. 1992 was also notable for Woody Allen's acrimonious split with Mia Farrow. Yesterday, his arch enemy American Apparel (NYSEMKT:APP) imploded 32.02%. The director once said, "I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens," and the clothing company clearly now has one foot in the grave.

This morning in economics, January existing-home sales are expected to fall from the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), Dish Network (NASDQ:DISH), and Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) are the pick of today's quarterly announcements.

AV Homes (NASDAQ:AVHI): Sterne Agee has a new Neutral on the real estate name. Its price objective is $18.

FleetCor Technologies (NYSE:FLT): Shares are begun with a Buy, and $138 target price, at Jefferies.

Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE:FSL): FSL is a fresh Buy at Dresdner.

Mattson Technology (NASDAQ:MTSN): Hailing the stock's compelling valuation among other favorable factors, Cowen resumes coverage at Outperform. Its objective is $4.

Restoration Hardware (NYSE:RH): BB&T Capital assigns a Buy on the equity, whose target is $73.

The Pantry (NASDAQ:PTRY): This convenience store stock jumped 2.46% yesterday, but today Macquarie rates it no better than Neutral.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM): The gourmet grocer gets assigned an Outperform ($63 objective) at Oppenheimer, which cites its good growth prospects in the lucrative natural and organic food category.

See also:

Stock Upgrades: 'Blame Canada?' Team USA, That Cuts No Ice With Tim Hortons (MVPRO article)

Stock Downgrades: Even 'President' Hamilton Gives Up on Groupon (MVPRO article)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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