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


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

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
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