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Stock Upgrades: Johnson & Johnson Is Head & Shoulders Above the Rest


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

It turns out our elected officials, who know all about bull, are occasionally able to unleash the animals on Wall Street. After all, those same politicians did just spend $47,174 on a mechanical one seven days into the shutdown. Thus did the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) surge back above 15,000 after Republicans proposed a six week can-kick on the debt ceiling, to November 22. (Five decades to the day after Dallas, for all you grassy knoll conspiracy theorists out there.) Those who say Uncle Sam can't do anything, and that America works far better when everything is left to the states, beamed with pride as weekly jobless claims, unaffected by Washington's woes, were released as scheduled. Then again, since even this report suffered from a major snafu, maybe not. The error involved a computer glitch in California, and on the day Palo Alto's own personal computer king Hewlett-Packard(NYSE:HPQ) scored multiple analyst upgrades, natch. Those of us who always preferred The Beatles to The Stones enjoyed yesterday. First, Sir Paul played an impromptu concert in Times Square (read all about it, in Rolling Stone.) This as Sir Mick's unloved Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RT) went for a song, sliding an NYSE-worst 17.09%.

Today in economics, the University of Michigan's first take on October consumer confidence is seen slipping from September's pace at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Bank of the Ozarks (NASDAQ:OZRK), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Infosys (NYSE:INFY), and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) have all already released results this morning.

Air Products (NYSE:APD): Yes, even Bill Ackman can occasionally make money. The beleaguered hedge fund manager, who recently took a position in the chemical company, today sees it taken to Buy from Hold at BGC Financial.

Assurant, Inc. (NYSE:AIZ): The accident and health insurance outfit gets lifted to Neutral from Underperform by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG): Citing a solid sales outlook, Janney Capital juices the fast food firm to Buy from Neutral, in the process increasing its price objective to $525.

Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS): Shares, which imploded a Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC)-worst 11.87% in yesterday's bull market, are now Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

Diageo (NYSE:DEO): The Guinness maker gets upgraded to Outperform from Neutral by BNP Paribas, sending it up ahead of the open.

Deutsche Telekom (OTCMKTS:DTEGY): HSBC Securities takes the telecom name to Overweight from Neutral.

JB Hunt Transport (NASDAQ:JBHT): Bank of America-Merrill moves shares to Buy from Neutral.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ): Goldman Sachs gives a Neutral-from-Sell boost to the key Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component, whose household names include Band-Aid, Crest, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Tide, and Tylenol.

K12 Inc. (NYSE:LRN): A week from hell for the education outfit ends on an upbeat note, upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Lennar (NYSE:LEN): LEN gets lifted to Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna, whose target price increases to $41.

LG Display (NYSE:LPL): Citigroup says Buy the stock, up from its prior opinion of Neutral.

Melco Crown Entertainment (NASDAQ:MPEL): MPEL is moved to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Pharmacyclics (NASDAQ:PCYC): Goldman gives the stock a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG): Shares are now Buy from Neutral, again at Goldman.

Safeway (NYSE:SWY): The grocery stock, surging before the bell, gets upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan. Its price objective, previously $28, increases to $43.

Société Générale (OTCMKTS: SCGLY): Macquarie moves its fellow financial firm to Neutral from Underperform.

Spirit Airlines (NASDAQ:SAVE): SAVE is boosted to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Texas Industries (NYSE:TXI): Longbow takes TXI to Buy from Neutral.

Tower Group (NASDAQ:TWGP): Shares are increased to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim, whose amended objective is $8.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: All Is Not Well Inside Intel and New Stock Coverage: Lady Luck Likes Look of Manpower.)
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