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Stock Upgrades: Family Dollar Adopting Poison Pill for Uncle Carl?


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

Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) stock is surging some 11.10% ahead of the open after activist investor Carl Icahn revealed he has acquired a 9.39% stake in the discount retailer. There is increasing speculation that Icahn will agitate for a merger with industry competitor Dollar General (NYSE:DG), whose own equity is up about 7.48% before the bell on an identical broker boost.
Even as adolescents climb Everest, the stock market's surge to historic highs never gets old. Last week's twin peaks were the Dow Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) and S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX), each at fresh bests after a pleasing payroll report. One day investors will eventually get vertigo but, with Keurig Green Mountain (NASDAQ:GMCR) having now advanced 8.2% in only five sessions, that day does not appear to be at hand. Blue chips flirted with 17,000 feet after a fourth straight month in which more than 200,000 jobs were added. That hasn't happened since 1999, back when Bill was king. (That would be Clinton, not the unfortunate Mr. Gross, whose Total Return Fund just endured its 13th consecutive month of outflows.) For its part The New York Times (NYSE:NYTkilled Clinton's wife -- really, throwing the book at her would have been enough. It was indeed an interesting week for the "newspaper of record," what with its Maureen Dowd going to pot and all. There was, however, no doubting Thomas Friedman, her colleague in calumny, who once opined a propos of Iraq: "In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car." This, as Hertz (NYSE:HTZ) nosedived 9.05% on Friday following its earnings restatement. While Hillary was being buried, economists at UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) came to praise Mario Draghi, born in the eternal city of seven hills. They called him the "modern monetary Caesar" -- this, even as the Super Bowl nixed its ancient Italian numerals in favor of a new nifty fifty. Meanwhile, the Fed fiddled while home burned.
There aren't any top-tier economic reports released today, but Casey's General Stores (NASDAQ:CASY), Ferrellgas Partners (NYSE:FGP), Layne Christensen (NASDAQ:LAYN), and The Pep Boys-Manny Moe & Jack (NYSE:PBY) are all expected to announce release quarterly results.
Now let's analyze this morning's upgrades -- a group encompassing an American jam giant and Argentine fast food firm as well as our aforementioned Family Dollar.

Arcos Dorados (NYSE:ARCO): Bank of America Merrill Lynch lifts the Buenos Aires-based owner of McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) operations in Argentina by an unusual 180 degrees, all the way to Buy from Underperform.
Biomarin Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:BMRN): Shares are now Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.
Capital One (NYSE:COF): The financial firm gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Nomura.
Dollar General: Jefferies juices its recommendation to Buy from Hold.
Family Dollar: Staying in the space, today's headline stock gets hoisted to Buy from Hold, also at Jefferies.
J.M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM): The peanut butter powerhouse is moved to Market Perform from Underperform with Wells Fargo.
L Brands (NYSE:LB): Oppenheimer increases the Victoria's Secret owner to Perform from Underperform amid international expansion opportunities and strong market share here at home. Its target price, previously $46, is also taken up by $10.
Novartis (NYSE:NVS): The Swiss drug giant gets lifted to Equal Weight from Underweight by Barclays.
Principal Financial (NYSE:PFG): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal Weight from Underweight.
Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE): Shares are given a Buy-from-Neutral upgrade at ISI Group.
TC Pipelines (NYSE:TCP): Barclays increases its investment assessment to Equal Weight from Underweight.
WisdomTree (NASDAQ:WETF): The company gets taken to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Time Is Money

Stock Downgrades: Taking an Ax to Anixter
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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