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Stock Upgrades: Time to Drink the Kool-Aid on Kraft


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

The Norwegian ambassador to New York has chosen to decorate his country's Christmas Tree with Edvard Munch's "The Scream." That epic of existential angst entered the world, as did the Dow Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI), in 1896. As of yet, Wall Street has no reason to be similarly afraid, not with money tree Forest Labs (NYSE:FRX) jumping 10.91% to top the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX). Still, US markets did snap their eight-week winning streak. Some shares did buck a bad tape, with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hitting a 2013 high after buying data-analytic outfit Topsy, which mines Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) missives. Many of these pithy platitudes are inane drivel about eating ham sandwiches for lunch, but occasionally - as when Lindsay Lohan displayed undeniable erudition in expounding on Fed policy - they can indeed contain genuine nuggets. In marked contrast to such real-time media, Newsweek opted to go old school in bringing back print. One wonders if this is smart, given how fast our modern world moves. Case in point: "Bitcoin Market Gets a Lift From China," said The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. "Bitcoin Prices Slide on China's Concerns," declared the same paper on Saturday. Type "Bitcoin bubble" into everyone's favorite search engine and you get about 28,800,000 results in 0.32 seconds. It's all money for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which hit the best level in its history on Friday and, unlike the digital currency, remains comfortably above $1,000.

Last week's torrid pace of economic announcements cools off considerably, with no top-tier data due this morning. In terms of other events that may move US markets and impact specific stocks, PVH Corp (NYSE:PVH) and Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN) each release results on Monday.

American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO): Stock in clothing company American Eagle Outfitters is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley & Co.

Aviva (NYSE:AV): The insurer is trading higher today after being added to the Europe 1 list of favored equities at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

FreightCar America (NASDAQ:RAIL): Longbow lifts the stock to Buy from Neutral.

Gildan Activewear (NYSE:GILD): GILD gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at DA Davidson, whose price target increases to $60 from $52.

HollyFrontier (NYSE:HFC): HFC is hoisted to Overweight from Underweight at JP Morgan.

Kraft Foods (NASDAQ:KRFT): Stock in Kraft Foods, whose brands include Kool-Aid and Miracle Whip, is moved to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley. Productivity and restructuring are each cited as favorable factors.

Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC): Stock in Marathon Petroleum is now Neutral from Underweight at JP Morgan.

Mohawk Industries (NYSE:MHK): The stock is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX): Shares are boosted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Portland General Electric (NYSE:POR): Barclays raises its rating to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO): The stock is lifted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Dean Foods Is on Santa's Naughty List and New Stock Coverage: American Airlines Moves From Hamm Actor to Hollywood Ending)
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