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New Stock Coverage: GPS Giant Garmin Finds a Friend

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

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On a day that is traditionally reserved for romantic unions, stocks went their separate ways. Shares ended with a split decision after, in CNBC's appropriately heartfelt formulation, "hugging the flatline" all session. Investors certainly failed to fall head over heels for the Marlboro Man as Altria (MO) of Virginia, which "is for lovers," ended off 1.93%. Any love letters Sealed With A Loving Kiss were promptly returned to sender by Stamps.com (STMP), which slid 14.62% after issuing an iffy earnings outlook. As for Italian love seat maker Natuzzi (NTZ), it nose-dived 3.91%.

Kraft (KRFT), which makes most of its money from Singles not couples, is down 1.08% before the bell after reporting results this morning, so think twice before puckering up to its Dentyne. Love was, however, literally in the air as the world's largest aviation merger was announced. Fred and Ginger, one of history's most indelible couples, once quarreled over the correct way to say "tomato," but it may all be moot since ketchup king H.J. Heinz (HNZ) surged 19.87% after being bought for $28 billion in history's biggest ever food deal.

It's a fairly busy Friday ahead of the long weekend, with stock markets closed on Monday for Presidents' Day. This morning in economics, we get the University of Michigan's preliminary consumer confidence figure for February at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Aegon (AEG), Anglo American (PINK:AAUKY), Campbell Soup (CPB), Commerzbank (PINK:CRZBY), ENI SpA (E), Forum Energy Technology (FET), IPG Photonics (IPGP), TRW Automotive (TRW), and V.F. Corporation (VFC) are all due to report results.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT): The medical device maker is begun with a Buy and $40 price objective at Stifel Nicolaus, which says that post spin-off, the company can offer investors impressive mid-to-upper single-digit sales growth.

CTC Media (CTCM): Barclays begins Underweight rated research on CTCM.

EADS (PINK:EADSY): The firm, officially known as the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, is a fresh Buy at Investec.

Emerson Electric (EMR): RBC Capital resumes Outperform rated research on the industrial equipment outfit. Its target price is $70.

Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN): Today's expected uncomfortably close call with an asteroid does not appear to be adversely impacting this portable navigation maker, famous for its GPS (Global Positioning System). Shares are assigned an Outperform by William Blair. It can continue to generate substantial cash flow, in the broker's view.

Triumph Group (TGI): The aerospace outfit is initiated at an Outperform with Wells Fargo, which sees fair value in the range of $85 to $90.

Yandex (YNDX): The Dutch Internet information provider is begun at an Overweight by Barclays.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Future Looks Bright For Pacific Sunwear and Stock Downgrades: Stop Hoarding Storage Stocks.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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