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Stock Ratings Changes: Eagle Rock Energy Set to Soar


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

Warren Buffett, whose "Have Yourself a Meth-y Little Christmas" holiday card condoned getting high, and cousin Jimmy, who spent his December 25 birthday getting "Wasted Again In Margaritaville," are far from the only parties partying like rock stars after recent action on Wall Street. Mr. AK-47 only left us on Monday morning, but since then the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) has recorded record numbers 48 and 49 of this remarkable year. Nifty fifty surely beckons today as equities remain Number One with a Bullet among asset classes, to foolishly tempt fate by invoking a movie title from Wall Street's annus horribilis of 1987.

In an abbreviated session on Tuesday, the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) also reached a fresh best as US stock markets rose for the fifth straight session. The traditional "Wait 'Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" trading floor sing-along on Christmas Eve admittedly did nothing for First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), which fell 0.84% as shareholders instead awaited yesterday's eagerly awaited appearance of a creature who comes alive only under a full moon. Yet those equally nocturnal Biblical magi "We three kings," who made their way under the "Star of Wonder" bearing gifts of bullion, inspired a Midas touch in that long-suffering sector as Royal Gold (NASDAQ:RGLD) rose 3.52%. (Burger King (NYSE:BKW), up 1.79% at an all-time high, didn't do too badly either.)

The yellow metal gained on more military maneuvers in South Sudan, rather spoiling the season of "Peace on Earth and good will toward men." Indeed as we remembered the "Christmas truce," in which enemy soldiers briefly halted hostilities to play soccer at the start of the "War to end all wars," unexploded ordinance from an even worse World War that followed rudely interrupted that festive feeling in Belgium. Meanwhile DuPont (NYSE:DD), whose chemical compound Kevlar is a key component of battlefield armor, jumped 1.74% to best all blue chips. Westmoreland Coal (NASDAQ:WLB) - unrelated to our Vietnam-era army general William - saw its stock surge 11.20% with the commodity made to feel unusually welcome in Santa's stocking. Don't mess with the fossil fuel. Control of it, along with clams and crabs, just cost an unfortunate uncle his life in North Korea, where "The Forgotten War" was fought. And a broker boost sent surging Botox inventor Allergan (NYSE:AGN) up another 1.15% on high hopes for its Restasis to treat dry eye. From frozen smiles to stoking tears, the company clearly has it all covered.

Eagle Rock Energy Partners (NASDAQ:EROC): Raymond James raises its recommendation on Eagle Rock Energy Partners to Market Perform from Underperform. The limited partnership, an oil and gas refiner, surged some 7.26% on Tuesday and its stock is currently adding on another 3.46% as a result of the analyst's action this morning.

FedEx (NYSE:FDX): Those Santa's sleigh delivery delays don't appear to be weighing on FedEx, at least according to Argus. While keeping its overall investment opinion on the stock intact, the broker nonetheless increases its price objective to $173 from $122. This as the economic bellwether continues to post good growth and solid margin expansion. The analyst notes that management guidance is often conservative, so attaining the upper end of earnings forecasts remains a distinct possibility.

Heritage-Crystal Clean (NASDAQ:HCCI): Wunderlich, while maintaining its investment rating, takes its target price on the stock to $25 from $20. Improved productivity and a better free cash flow outlook are each cited as potential share-price catalysts.

Tri Pointe Homes (NYSE:TPH): Tri Pointe Homes stock is rated a new Neutral at Buckingham.
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