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Stock Upgrades: Mr. Market, in Need of Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation, Puckers Up to Estee Lauder

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

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US stocks slid after an escalating crisis in Ukraine caused Russia's RTS Index to post the planet's poorest stock-market performance with a 2.4% tumble. This as the ruble, reduced to rubble, achieved the identical dubious distinction among all worldwide currencies. I am thus tempted to say investors took a bath, but, given what happens to people who step into said tub after angering President Putin, let's just say we were soaked in an April shower, shall we? (even if that unfortunate oligarch expired in Britain, whose iconic Burberry (OTCMKTS:BURBY) raincoats offered us precious little protection after getting downgraded). Among stocks on the move, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) continued to turn back time to its heyday and held up much better than did the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) overall. Today the tech titan bids goodbye to 2001 even as it subsidizes a search for 1982. Elon Musk, proud son of Pretoria, saw his Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) tumble 2.22% and SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) slump 8.09% -- on a day when, for once, he was not the planet's most talked-about South African. Icarus, much like the aforementioned alternative-energy outfit, famously flew too close to the sun. So too, apparently, did American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), which ended off 2.13% even after a broker boost. And, much to the consternation of economists, consumer borrowing in the US came in stronger than expected for February. Thankfully, at least one practitioner of the dismal science was able to laugh about it.
 
Speaking of economics, there aren't any top-tier data releases due today, but Alcoa (NYSE:AA) unofficially ushers in first-quarter corporate reporting season when it reports results after the close. Others announcing earnings include International Speedway (NASDAQ:ISCA) and WD-40 Company (NASDAQ:WDFC).
 
Allegiant Travel (NASDAQ:ALGT): Deutsche Bank boosts the stock to Buy from Hold.
 
ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH): The English chip outfit, an important Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) supplier, gets increased to Perform from Underperform by Sanford Bernstein.
 
Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY): BMO Capital Markets moves the giant pharmaceutical firm to Perform from Underperform with a price objective of $62. Still, shares may show weakness today after losing a $9 billion court case in Germany.
 
Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL): Amid the recent sell off in high-beta stocks, so called "safe haven" equities look increasingly attractive. Accordingly, this cosmetics company gets upgraded to Outperform from Perform by Bernstein. In addition to its eponymous brand, Estee's other labels include Aramis, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Origins, and the more youth-oriented Smashbox.
 
FireEye (NASDAQ:FEYE): Shares are now Outperform from Neutral with Wedbush, whose new target price is $62. "Robust growth" is projected for the company.
 
Harman International (NYSE:HAR): Raymond James raises the audio outfit to Strong Buy from Outperform.
 
Hawaiian Electric (NYSE:HE): HE is hoisted to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.
 
Hub Group (NASDAQ:HUBG): BB&T Capital Markets moves the company to Buy from Hold.
 
LaFarge (OTCMKTS:LFRGY): The stock is lifted to Buy from Neutral at UBS.
 
Nike (NYSE:NKE): Stifel boosts the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) member to Buy from Hold with an $87 price objective on account of its robust fundamentals and an increasingly attractive entry point.
 
Sprouts Farmers Market (NASDAQ:SFM): Shares are now Buy from Neutral with an increased $43 target at UBS.
 
US Ecology (NASDAQ:ECOL): KeyBanc Capital Markets moves the equity to Buy from Hold.
 
Yelp, Inc. (NYSE:YELP): The Internet outfit is taken to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust.
 
Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Coke and Pepsi Poised to Pop

Stock Downgrades: Even Cisco Systems Isn't Immune to Tech Wreck
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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