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Stock Upgrades: Are You Ready for Some Baseball? Hillshire Brands Hits It Out of the Ballpark

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

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Party like it's 1999? Hardly, but the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) did advance 19.99 and, at the end of an utterly awful month in equities, investors will take what they can get. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) moved the market higher with its 14.10% breakout to a fresh best. Right on cue, Bloomberg Businessweek -- whose predecessor publication predicting "The Death of Equities" in 1979 remains the cover curse to top all cover curses -- puts Mark Zuckerberg on its front page today. Notwithstanding that a baseball staple scores a broker boost this morning, this week is all about football. Who needs the over-under when there's Under Armour (NYSE:UA)? It jumped 22.93% to top the entire NYSE, so Tom Brady can console himself even as he enjoys in Sunday's Super Bowl as spectator rather than participant. As to who will win the Seahawks-Broncos matchup, the portents don't look good for the former. Boeing (NYSE:BA), longtime pride of Puget Sound, tumbled 2.50% in propping up the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) for a second straight day. Adding insult to injury for Rain City, its unloved Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is falling 5.71% before the bell. Meanwhile Denver's own Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG), doyen of equity analysts, is surging some 12.15% as we speak.

Today in economics, we get the University of Michigan's final figure for January consumer confidence at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Autoliv (NYSE:ALV), Chevron (NYSE:CVC), Honda (NYSE:HMC), MasterCard (NYSE:MA), Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT), National-Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV), Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN), and Weyerhaeuser (NYSE:WY) are all due to release results.

Airlines: Alaska Air (NYSE:ALK) is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan, which takes its target price to $97 from $70.50. Meanwhile the bank boosts JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU), yesterday's star turn with a 5.75% surge, to Neutral from Underweight. Its objective increases by $3.00, to $9.50. And United Continental (NYSE:UAL) is now Neutral from Underweight. The price objective, previously $40.50, is now $53.50.

Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS): Shares, which slid some 7.48% on Thursday, are today taken to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan. The target also increases, to $64 from $56

Computer Sciences (NYSE:CSC): JPMorgan's equity analysts have had a very busy morning, for they also move this tech name to Neutral from Underweight

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (NASDAQ:CBRL): Shares get a Buy-from-Hold boost at Miller Tabak, whose target is $114. A 20% plunge from the stock's late-November 2013 peak, along with the potential for earnings estimate upside, can each act as equity-price catalysts.

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC): UBS increases its investment assessment on the Scandinavian telecom titan to Buy from Neutral.

Hillshire Brands (NYSE:HSH): On the eve of the Super Bowl, the owner of Ball Park franks may be a better bet. Hillshire Brands, whose stock surged 6.72% yesterday on an earnings beat, is today taken to Market Perform from Underperform with Wells Fargo.

IDEX Corp (NYSE:IEX): Citing improving organic sales trends among other favorable factors, Brean Capital increases IEX to Buy from Hold. Its price objective is established at $79.

Imperial Tobacco (OTCMKTS:ITYBY): Shares are trading higher in London today on the back of a Buy-from-Neutral lift at Goldman Sachs.

ITT Educational (NYSE:ESI): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal Weight from Underweight.

JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ:JDSU): The stock, jumping before this morning's opening bell, is juiced to Outperform from Perform by William Blair.

Linear Technology (NASDAQ:LLTC): Citigroup lifts LLTC to Buy from Neutral.

Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC): Shares are moved to Outperform from In-line at Imperial Capital. Its target is also taken up to $98 from $76.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX): Another week, another upgrade for last year's top S&P 500 stock. It is now Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley.

PulteGroup (NYSE:PHM): Raymond James raises its recommendation to Outperform from Perform.

Raytheon (NYSE:RTN): RTN is now Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee, whose objective also increases to $114 from $92.

Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA): The FarmVille owner, whose stock is surging some 15.73% as we speak, gets upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Janney Capital.

See also:

New Stock Coverage: Headwaters Will Keep Its Head Above, Well, You Know

Stock Downgrades: Diageo Cries Into Its Guinness
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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