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New Stock Coverage: Analyst Has Hang-Ups About AT&T


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

Wall Street's money tree was always destined to stopped growing eventually, but what a pity it occurred just ahead of this morning's buttonwood birthday. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) snapped a four-session record run amid iffy economic data on either side of the Atlantic. Athens beverage behemoth Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (OCCH) is slumping 5.6% in London today, just as Greece prepares to sing a song called "Alcohol Is Free" at tomorrow's Eurovision Song Contest. (Just as well, as its economy is enough to drive even teetotalers to drink.)

On a day of slim pickings in the stock market, Microsoft's (MSFT) Bill Gates picked off Slim to become the planet's richest person once more. Fellow bridge player Warren Buffett fared less well, however, as Standard & Poor's cut the rating of his holding company. Curiously enough Moody's (MCO), 11.5% owned by Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), opted not to follow suit.

Today in economics, the University of Michigan's preliminary May consumer sentiment survey and April leading indicators are each expected to improve at 9:55 a.m. Eastern and 10:00 a.m., respectively. In earnings action, look for results from Donaldson Company (DCI), Quality Systems (QSII), and Stage Stores (SSI).

AT&T (NYSE:T): The telecom titan, a key Dow (^DJI) component, is assigned only a lukewarm Equal Weight by Barclays.

Cempra (CEMP): Jefferies begins Buy-rated coverage on the biotech company.

Communications Companies: Something for everyone at Barclays, which establishes an Overweight on American Tower (AMT), Equal Weights on Crown Castle (CCI) and T-Mobile US (TMUS), and an Underweight on Leap Wireless (LEAP).

Infoblox (BLOX): Needham begins Buy rated research on BLOX, whose price objective is $26. Catalysts include operating margins that could eventually exceed 20% amid an impressive infrastructure roll out.

McCormick & Company (MKC): Citigroup has a new Neutral on the spice and condiment company.

NuVasive (NUVA): The surgical stock is begun with a Buy rating and $27 target price at WallachBeth, which highlights its aim to become a $1 billion player in the spine market amid increased adoption of the company's technology.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN): UBS resumes Neutral-rated research on REGN.

Triumph Group (TGI): The aerospace outfit gets set a Neutral at Cowen.

Verizon (VZ): The Dow member is a fresh Overweight at Barclays. (WWWW): Northland Capital has a new Outperform, and $26 target, on the tech name, which it says is an impressive way to play SMB (Server Message Block) migrating to the cloud.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: General Motors on Road to Riches and Stock Downgrades: Pottery Barn Owner Williams-Sonoma Needs to Take a Break.)
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