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Stock Upgrades: Forget Apple! Applebee's Owner DineEquity Is Where It's At


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

The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropped for a second straight day after a girl's best friend cut no ice with Mr. Market. Zale Corp (NYSE:ZLC), which bills itself as "America's diamond store since 1924," surged 40.31% after being bought by Signet Jewelers (NYSE:SIG), where they say "Every kiss begins with Kay." (Hershey (NYSE:HSY), which yesterday hit the highest level in its illustrious history, might beg to differ with that claim. It can certainly afford to.) With Lego, invented in Copenhagen, besting the box office, and Carlsberg (OTCMKTS:CABGY) surging 6.03%, is Denmark the best country in the world? Probably. Its prodigal daughter Nina Agdal even graces the most famous current cover in America. She is now shilling hoagies at Hardee's but it is Potbelly (NASDAQ:PBPB) -- which plunged 8.66% to a post-IPO low -- that really needs the supermodel's Midas touch now. And JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) lost 2.10% to lead all Dow laggards, but the company currently has much more tragic matters it must address.

Today's financial reports include the Philadelphia Fed for February and last month's leading economic indicators, each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, we get announcements out of Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

American Equity Investment Life (NYSE:AEL): FBR Capital increases AEL to Outperform from Perform. Its target price is $25.

Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX): The Canadian commodity company gets an Outperform-from-Sector-Perform boost by RBC Capital, which also increases its price objective by $4 to $28. Higher price forecasts for the suddenly surging yellow metal are a key component of the analyst's increased optimism.

Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE:CNQ): Staying north of the border, this energy outfit from Calgary is now Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:CG): Citigroup lifts the limited partnership to Buy from Neutral.

DealerTrack (NASDAQ:TRAK): TRAK is taken to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

DineEquity (NYSE:DIN): Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) gets downgraded today, but the owner of Applebee's fares far better. Janney raises its recommendation on the fast food firm, whose restaurant portfolio also includes International House of Pancakes, to Buy from Neutral.

Infoblox (NYSE:BLOX): Goldman Sachs gives the stock a Buy-from-Neutral increase.

Nabors Industries (NYSE:NBR): The oil services outfit, which surged an S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX)-best 13.14% yesterday, is now Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman. Its price objective, previously $114, increases to $153.

Also see:

Stock Downgrades: Zuck, What's Up? Not Facebook Stock, That's for Sure (MVPRO article)

New Stock Coverage: Want a Quick Buck? Better Make Dough-Eyes at Deere (MVPRO article)
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