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New Stock Coverage: Check's in the Mail for FedEx


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

Stocks went to Pluto just in time for the passing of a man who said capitalism killed life on Mars. Maybe it was all part of arch-socialist Hugo Chávez's twisted master plan. After all, his homeland was an unlikely home to planet Earth's top performing equity market last year. (Venezuelan bonds were no slouch either.) As the gold watch-wearing kind of anti-capitalist, he will certainly be enjoying today's earnings-related slide in plastic timepiece pioneer Swatch Group (PINK:SWGAY).

On a day the Dow (^DJI) hit the highest level in its history, it's pointless to ask why prison cells remain criminally unoccupied by the well-compensated captains of industry who caused the financial crisis. Not when British jail operator Serco (SECCY) just jumped 8.9% and correctional facility king Geo Group (GEO) advanced 2.02% to a fresh peak in a showing that may add a few bucks to its sports stadium naming rights.

Standard Chartered (PINK:SCBFF), which sponsors the English soccer club Liverpool, added 2.16% after reporting record profits for a 10th straight year, but the fútbol team's eternal enemy Manchester United (MANU) fell 2.19% in late trading after it was beaten by history's most expensive player. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for.

Today at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, forecasts call for a fall in January factory orders, while the Federal Reserve releases its March beige book surveying a dozen regional economic conditions at 2:00 p.m. In earnings action, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), Big Lots (BIG), Brown-Forman (BF-B), Delek US Holdings (DK), Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV), PetSmart (PETM), and Staples (SPLS) are all due to report results.

Agilent (A): Shares are launched with an Outperform at Leerink Swann.

Air Delivery & Freight Services: FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) and United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) are each established with Outperforms at Oppenheimer, whose respective price objectives are $124 and $95. Improved economic activity and e-commerce growth are both seen as share price catalysts.

Biotechnology: Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (PPHM), Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA), and Vivus (VVUS) are all picked up with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray, which has a new Neutral on Clovis Oncology (CLVS).

Bright Horizons Family Solutions (BFAM): The child care provider is a new Neutral at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Robert W. Baird, whose price objective is $30. Steady annual revenue growth and margin expansion is offset by a current premium in the share price. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (Buy), Barclays (Overweight), and Credit Suisse (Outperform) are more bullish.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY): William Blair begins covering the pharmaceutical firm at Outperform.

Celldex Therapeutics (CLDX): Shares are launched at Outperform by Leerink Swann.

Cytori Therapeutics (CYTX): Roth Capital resumes Buy rated coverage on CYTX.

John Wood Group plc (PINK:WDGJF): The British-based oil and gas outfit is begun with an Overweight at HSBC Securities, sending it up sharply in today's London trading.

Mueller Water Products (MWA): Macquarie establishes an Outperform and $7 target on the stock.

Navidea Biopharmaceuticals (NAVB): The medical appliance outfit is a new Underweight at Piper Jaffray.

NovaBay Pharmaceuticals (NBY): Ascendiant Capital assigns a Strong Buy and $2.25 price objective on the micro-cap, as the broker has high hopes for its NVC-422 as a treatment against adenoviral conjunctivitis (pink eye).

Sun Hung Kai Properties (PINK:SUHJY) HSBC Securities starts the Chinese real estate play at Overweight.

Zions Bancorp (ZION): Shares are assigned an Outperform at BMO Capital.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Why You Better Buy Best Buy and Stock Downgrades: Did Someone Just Say 'Sell' Apple?)
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