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Stock Upgrades: Even Investors With a Tin Ear Hear Alcoa Making Money Talk


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

Aluminum outfit Alcoa (NYSE:AA), fresh from announcing second-quarter earnings that beat Street estimates, gets a broker boost this morning. Yesterday its stock advanced to an almost two-year high. Alcoa's aerospace segment is seen as especially impressive, and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said Q2 results speak to a "transformation" that "is in high gear."
"Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk"? On Wall Street, if not Broadway, one out of two will do. Our aforementioned Alcoa surged 5.66% to top the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) by a mile as it avoided the sort of noisy quarter that recently bedeviled its fellow Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropout American International Group (NYSE:AIG). This, even as the Container Store (NYSE:TCS) imploded 8.39% as its CEO paid homage to the soulful sound of the '70s. Camel maker Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) was another Hump Day standout, with the American cigarette stock rising 2.22% after England's Daily Mail reported that British American Tobacco (NYSEMKT:BTI) may make a bid. (As for the newspaper's reporting of another Anglo-American marriage, this country's longtime most eligible bachelor is most assuredly not amused at the Fleet Street icon.) Oil giant BP Plc (NYSE:BP), which did so much to send the transatlantic relationship up in smoke, ended off 0.11% on a rating reduction from the land of nein nein nein even as petroleum plunged for a ninth straight session. Henry Ford (NYSE:F), an (in)famous isolationist who wanted the US out of all European entanglements, would have winced as his car company advanced 1.87% after reporting a devilishly good 6.6% annual increase in its June European auto sales. Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK), whose ex-head blew $12.1 million of company dime on antique maps during the depths of the Great Recession, rose 2.45% even as newfangled navigation name Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) gapped down an S&P 500-worst 4.57% on a rating reduction. If it's any consolation to the GPS giant, Portugal -- land of legendary explorers Magellan and Vasco da Gama -- lost its way in even more spectacular fashion. Moving from the first PIIGS to the last, our World Cup portfolio pick Banco Santander (NYSE:SAN) perked up 2.36%, which should be some consolation to Spain in this, their waning days as world champions.
Today in economics, May wholesale inventories are forecast to slip from the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. EDT. On the earnings front, expect announcements by Barracuda Networks (NYSE:CUDA), Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO), and PriceSmart (NASDAQ:PSMT).
Now let's analyze this morning's research recommendations, a group encompassing a Dutch brewing behemoth as well as Alcoa.
Alcoa: Today's headline equity is taken to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.
Allianz (OTCMKTS:AZSEY): In a great week for Germany, Société Générale hoists the Pimco owner to Hold from Sell.
Heineken (OTCMKTS:HEINY): The beer giant is now Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.
PrivateBancorp (NASDAQ:PVTB): Sterne Agee increases its investment assessment to Buy from Neutral.
Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS): RBS gets raised to Hold from Sell at its fellow financial firm Investec.
Starwood Hotels (NYSE:HOT): Citing share buybacks and a European recovery among other favorable factors, MLV & Co moves the accommodation outfit to Buy from Hold. Its price objective, preciously $86, is now $96.
Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI): Shares are up nicely in today's European trading after being boosted by JP Morgan to Overweight from Neutral, which hails its prospects in Brazil.
Tractor Supply (NASDAQ:TSCO): Credit Suisse takes TSCO to Outperform from Neutral, though shares are slumping before the bell.
 Also see:
 New Stock Coverage: CIT Group Gets the $87,000 Rug Pulled Out From Under It

Stock Downgrades: Lumber Liquidators Magic Carpet Ride Ends With Trading Floor Thud
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