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Stock Upgrades: 3M Gets Out of a Sticky Situation


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

The long and the short of it? US stock markets moved lower as 882 pages proved predictably mightier than 140 characters. Passage of the voluminous Volcker Rule cast a shadow over equities that even a 5.80% surge in Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) was unable to overcome. Mr. Volcker, as our Central Bank head, had to confront a Fed funds rate of 20% in 1980. That was the year Ronald Reagan providentially arrived in Detroit to rescue America from its Carter-era "malaise." It was also the year Motown's teenage Ms. Barra arrived at General Motors (NYSE:GM). She started on the factory floor and yesterday smashed the glass ceiling; let us all hail Mary. On a day the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) backed away from records, photo pioneer Eastman Kodak (NYSE:KODK) jumped 4.42% as cameras took center stage. President Reagan's successor took a "selfie" in South Africa with Denmark's blonde bombshell Prime Minister. Not smart; there was Helle to pay with Michelle. The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service was decidedly dodgy and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) - whose treatment of the deaf is a disgrace - tumbled 2.95%, enduring its worst day for over a year. There was no foreplay for Auxilium Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AUXL), which fell an even 4.00%. This despite recently getting approval to treat - no, I'm sorry, it's far too embarrassing to say. The news was better for Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), home of the little blue pill: For the second straight year, it was named America's happiest company.

In terms of economic events that may move US markets today, analysts expect November's budget deficit to widen at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Inditex (MCE:ITX), Joy Global (NYSE:JOY), Men's Wearhouse (NYSE:MW), and Nordson (NASDAQ:NDSN) are all due to release results. And Hilton Worldwide (NYSE:HLT) prices its initial public offering.

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU): Citigroup takes the French telecom firm to Buy from Neutral.

Almost Family (NASDAQ:AFAM): AFAM gets upgraded to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital.

Boise Cascade (NYSE:BCC): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH): Leerink lifts the stock to Outperform from Market Perform.

Charles River Labs (NYSE:CRL): The stock is moved to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James.

Children's Place Retail Stores (NASDAQ:PLCE): FBR Capital raises its recommendation to Outperform from Market Perform.

Dentsply (NASDAQ:XRAY): Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Goldman gives Dentsply stock a Buy-from-Neutral boost. Catalysts include the implant market and an accretive acquisition. Its price objective on Dentsply is $56.

FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE): Shares are now Neutral from Sell, also at Goldman.

General Dynamics (NYSE:GD): GD gets upgraded to Fair Value from Sell at CRT Capital.

Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN): Saying Groupon is expanding impressively into the local commerce arena, Wells Fargo lifts its stock to Outperform from Market Perform.

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Radware (NASDAQ:RDWR): Wells raises RDWR to Outperform from Market Perform.

3M Company (NYSE:MMM): The maker of Scotch Tape and Post-it Notes was indeed in a sticky situation only last week after getting downgraded by Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS). Today, however, there is better news for the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) member, as its stock gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Nomura. Organic growth prospects and profit margins each augur well for 3M Company, the broker believes.

Vivendi (OTCMKTS:VIVHY): Shares are taken to Outperform from Market Perform by Sanford Bernstein.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Avis Learns the Hard Way That Love Hertz and Stock Downgrades: W.R. Grace Isn't Amazing)
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