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Stock Upgrades: Sony Shows Why It's Good to Be George Clooney


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

Dry-eye titan TearLab (NASDAQ:TEAR) did tumble 11.01% but otherwise, it was a day to bring tears of joy to the eyes of CNBC's retail correspondent Courtney Reagan. Yes, yes, an on-air marriage proposal from her boyfriend may have been one reason she reached for the Kleenex. But, likely being long Macy's (NYSE:M) - whose 9.39% surge topped the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) - was an equally probable factor for her going all lachrymose. US markets rose to new records on a day there were waterworks all around. A broker boost sent Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ:LULU) and its blubbering CEO up 3.03%. And crocodile tears worked a treat for Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX), which gained 9.76% for its best day all year. Yet it was a two-tiered market. Amid all the ebullience, a downgraded Dean Foods (NYSE:DF) dropped another 0.93%. Wait a minute. Dean Foods is based in Dallas, not far from the Texas School Book Depository. And school textbook rental company Chegg (NYSE:CHGG) tumbled 22.56% on its first day of trading. And Hertz (NYSE:HTZ), whose car rental sign stood atop Dealey Plaza, advanced 2.54%. And Scotts Miracle-Gro (NYSE:SMG), which helped grow the grassy knoll, gained 1.66%. Where is Oliver Stone when we need him?

In terms of events that may move US markets this morning, the confirmation hearing for Janet Yellen to head the Fed commences at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, expect earnings announcements out of Agilent (NYSE:A), Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT), Burberry (OTCMKTS:BURBY), Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP), Kohl's Corp (NYSE:KSS), Manchester United (NYSE:MANU), Merck KGaA (OTCMKTS:MKGAY), Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), Tyco (NYSE:TYC), Viacom (NASDAQ:VIAB), Vivendi (OTCMKTS:VIVHY), and Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT).

CAE Inc. (NYSE:CAE): The aerospace and defense outfit gets upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital. Potential upcoming catalysts include steady margin improvement and an attractive valuation.

Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:CG): Goldman Sachs gives the money manager a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL): Shares are raised to Buy from Neutral at boutique brokerage B. Riley & Co. Its price objective, previously $26, increases to $32.

J. Sainsbury (OTCMKTS:JSAIY): Multiple broker boosts for the British grocer today, upgraded to Neutral from Underperform by BNP Paribas, to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup, and to Neutral from Underweight at HSBC Securities.

Lifepoint Hospitals (NASDAQ:LPNT): Deutsche Bank lifts LPNT to Buy from Hold.

Office Depot (NYSE:ODP): Office Depot, whose stock rose 3.26% yesterday, is advancing another 3.16% this morning. This after Bank of America-Merrill Lynch does a 180, boosting it all the way to Buy from Underperform. Office Depot recently named Roland Smith as its CEO after acquiring rival OfficeMax.

SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY): SolarCity, whose Chairman is the ubiquitous Elon Musk, gets raised to Outperform from Perform at Robert W. Baird, which praises the company's industry-leading innovation. Its price objective on SolarCity, previously $50, increases to $71 from $50.

Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE): Sony Corporation, which George Clooney recently defended in its battle with activist investor Daniel Loeb, is moved to Overweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley. The stock, a 4.12% gainer on Wednesday, is currently advancing another 1.45% as a result of the analyst's action. Tomorrow, Sony Corporation launches its PlayStation 4 in the US.

SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI): STI is taken to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer.

Zogenix (NASDAQ:ZGNX): Shares get upgraded to Outperform from Perform, again at Oppenheimer.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Mattress Firm Holding Set to Sleep With the Fishes? and Stock Downgrades: Cisco Systems on Route to Ruin)
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