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Stock Upgrades: Mother Merrill Not About to Abandon Her E-Trade Babies

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

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Reluctant as I am to reference a film from Wall Street's utterly awful year of 1987, the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) did indeed do a Cher in Moonstruck. Industrials managed to "snap out of it" and arrest a three-session skid. (Although, alas, botox owner Allergan (NYSE:AGN) -- surely the only way the Turn Back Time singer could look this good in her mid-60s -- tumbled 2.37%.) Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) issues enjoyed an even better day, ably assisted by a 2.18% increase in Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Clearly, anyone who took its recent skid to mean that the company is finished is a total jerk. Dan Loeb and Bill Ackman, who allegedly kissed and made up on March 5, must be no better than fair-weather Facebook "friends," however, for the former was evidently still adding to his position in Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) -- the latter's big short -- as late as March 21. Yesterday the purported pyramid scheme added on 1.12%. Few were shorter than the delightful Wendy Kaufman, the Snapple lady who stood a scant 5'2" and, unfortunately, no one went long on her stock yesterday. Indeed, Dr Pepper Snapple (NYSE:DPS) slumped an S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX)-worst 3.84% after an analyst downgrade. And Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSAwent before the Feds to pitch its acquisition of Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC). Not the best day, then, for it to be named the single worst company in all of America.
 
Today in economics, wholesale inventories for February are expected to come in essentially unchanged at 10:00 a.m. EDT. At 2:00 p.m., the Federal Open Market Committee releases minutes to its March 19 meeting. On the earnings front, Apogee Enterprises (NASDAQ:APOG), Bed, Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY), Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ), and Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RT) all report results.
 
AmSurg (NASDAQ:AMSG): Cantor Fitzgerald hoists the company to Buy from Hold.
 
Carlyle (NASDAQ:CG): The limited partnership gets lifted to Outperform from Perform with a $41 price objective at Oppenheimer, which cites its impressive diversification.
 
CBOE Holdings (NASDAQ:CBOE): Bank of America Merrill Lynch moves the Chicago-based exchange operator to Buy from Neutral.
 
Danaher (NYSE:DHR): Shares get upgraded to Strong Buy from Buy at ISI Group, whose target price is $86. Catalysts include an impressive FCF (Free Cash Flow) yield.
 
E-Trade Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC): E-Trade just put its tiny tots up for adoption, but better not tell that to the Bank of America unit long known as "Mother Merrill." The broker raises its rating to Neutral from Underperform, sending shares up some 1.50% as we speak. Its target also increases, by $2 to $21.
 
FireEye (NASDAQ:FEYE): The stock is increased to Buy from Hold at Topeka.
 
First Interstate Bancsystem (NASDAQ:FIBK): Barclays boosts the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.
 
Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB): HIBB is hoisted to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.
 
LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD): The professional networking name is now Buy from Hold at Topeka.
 
Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN): Shares get an Overweight-from-Equal Weight boost by Barclays, which also increases its price objective to $15 from $13.
 
Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM): The cigarette stock is now Neutral from Reduce at Nomura.
 
Porsche (OTCMKTS:POAHY): Sanford Bernstein boosts the automotive outfit to Outperform from Perform.
 
Ryanair (OTCMKTS:RYAAY): The low-cost carrier gets increased to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays, which anticipates "a bounce-back in fares next winter."
 
Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL): Societe Generale raises its recommendation to Hold from Sell.
 
Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VLKAY): An Outperform-from-Market-Perform boost by Sanford Bernstein is lifting the giant German car company in today's European trading. The bank is no longer, in its words, "notoriously cautious" on VW.
 
Yelp Inc. (NYSE:YELP): Another day, another upgrade for the firm, today taken to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital.

Disclosure: Minyanville Media has a business relationship with E-Trade.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Mondelez International -- Awful Name, Awful Investment?

Stock Downgrades: Goldman No Longer Hearts Hershey's Kisses
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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