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New Stock Coverage: AOL Not Dialing Up Dollars

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

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On Hump Day, and amid an intense focus on stocks with names like McGraw-Hill (MHP) and Green Mountain (GMCR), it figured Wall Street would finish flat as a pancake. The Post Office announced it would end Saturday delivery and, adding insult to its considerable injury, Post-it maker 3M Co. (MMM) promptly surged 1.18% to hit an historic high while Pitney Bowes (PBI), up 2.82%, can also afford to keep the meter running. (Completing Cliff Clavin's trifecta of woe, Wells Fargo (WFC), originator of the Pony Express, advanced on upbeat analyst comments, but at least the company famous for saying, "You've Got Mail!" rates only a lukewarm research initiation this morning.) Our mail carriers owe $16 billion, which simply isn't good enough for Uncle Sam, in debt to the tune of $16 trillion.

Moving from something borrowed to something blue, Tiffany's (TIF) iconic boxes should sell like gangbusters one week from today, but yesterday the bling king fell 0.83%. This as a nine time recipient of its engagement rings turned 96. Dahling, Zsa-Zsa did her level best to boost sales but, with a couple married for over eight decades now in the news, it's no wonder wedding bands aren't flying off the shelves quite like they used to.

This afternoon in economics, December consumer credit data is due at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Activision Blizzard (ATVI), Cigna (CI), Credit Suisse (CS), Daimler (PINK:DDAIY), Hasbro (HAS), Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), LinkedIn (LNKD), New York Times (NYT), Sony (SNE), and Sprint Nextel (S) are all expected to reveal results.

AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL): Goldman Sachs rates the Internet information provider no better than Neutral in new coverage.

Biotechnology: Robert W. Baird resumes Optimer Pharmaceuticals (OPTR) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) with Outperforms on each, assigning respective price objectives of $16 and $53. The former should benefit from an increase in cases of influenza this season. As for VRTX, optimism abounds over its cystic fibrosis franchise.

Fusion-io (FIO): Shares are assigned a Neutral at Janney.

Fly Leasing (FLY): FLY is a fresh Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Mellanox Technologies (MLNX): The stock is begun with a Buy at Janney.

Pfizer (PFE): Credit Suisse covers the Dow (^DJI) company at a Neutral. Its target price is $29.

ValueClick (VCLK): The equity gets picked up with a Buy at Goldman.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Yahoo's Recovery Picks Up Pace and Stock Downgrades: Volvo No Longer Safe Place to Park Your Cash.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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