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New Stock Coverage: Foot Locker Kicks Into High Gear

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

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Monday was marked by a big move in the market, with McGraw-Hill (MHP) and Moody's (MCO) ending as the two worst stocks on the entire S&P 500 Index (^GSPC). Tuesday was marked by a big move in the market, with McGraw-Hill and Moody's ending as the two worst stocks on the entire S&P 500 Index. Perhaps, with Groundhog Day having fallen on a weekend this year, Punxsutawney Phil is forcing us to relive everything in perpetuity, lest we missed it the first time around.

One major difference between the past two trading sessions was that shares surged yesterday, rebounding smartly from their worst losses of the year only 24 hours earlier. The ratings agencies, however, officially raised a white flag, appropriately enough bordered by red ink. Uncle Sam appears deadly serious in its lawsuit alleging impropriety during the increasingly distant real estate bubble era, but thankfully it's different this time as we've now learned our lessons about the dangers of turning our homes into ATMs.

Alliant Techsystems (ATK), the world's largest maker of ammunition, was downgraded this morning but an analyst upgrade of iconic writing instrument outfit A.T. Cross (ATX) sent it surging 10.95% to prove that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. (Please send some stock options to our next Treasury Secretary pronto in the hope of avoiding more hand wringing over his handwriting.)

It's another eerily quiet day in economic data but corporate earnings announcements are expected to include Allstate (ALL), ArcelorMittal (MT), CVS Caremark (CVS), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI), Madison Square Garden (MSG), News Corporation (NWSA), Time Warner (TWX), Visa (V), and Volvo (PINK:VOLVY).

Apparel Stores/Specialty Retail: Robert W. Baird has a new Neutral and $21 target price on Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL) amid concerns that its Running Company unit is currently contributing to margin pressure. By contrast, Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) is resumed with an upbeat Outperform recommendation and $45 price objective, as basketball shoe trends are seen as a source of strength.

JC Penney (JCP): The retailer is resumed with a Sell rating and $10 target at Maxim, which says its 43 million square feet of owned retail space may be overvalued.

Power-One (PWER): PWER gets picked up with a Neutral at Ascendiant Capital, which assigns a $4 price objective on a small cap company it says faces a challenging 2013 amid industry consolidation and worldwide oversupply.

Sigma-Aldrich (SIAL): Citigroup starts Neutral rated research on SIAL.

Solar Stocks: Citigroup starts Suntech Power (STP) at Sell, assigns new Neutrals on Trina Solar (TSL) and Yingli Green Energy (YGE), and begins Buys on both First Solar (FSLR) and SunPower (SPWR).

Thor Industries (THO): The recreational vehicle firm is a fresh Outperform at BMO Capital.

Vivus (VVUS): Leerink Swann launches Outperform coverage on the diet drug company.

Wells Fargo (WFC): Shares are a new Buy at Nomura, whose target is $42.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: McGraw-Hill's Issues More Molehill Than Mountain? and Stock Downgrades: Stern Warning for Sirius XM Radio.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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