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Stock Upgrades: LinkedIn Can Be Big in Beijing


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

So much for the old trope that bonds are "boring" and equities are "exciting." Yesterday, while S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) stocks barely budged, the goings-on in fixed income were worthy of a soap opera. First, a 34-year-old former bond trader was outed as Goldman Sachs' (NYSE:GS) elevator author. (The news failed to give the bank a lift, for it promptly fell 1.84%.) And over at Pimco, planet Earth's biggest bond fund, the air was as blue as the Pacific Ocean after Mohamed El-Erian told Bill Gross, "I'm tired of cleaning up your s---." (Fear not, gentle reader, for I can confirm that the contentious four-letter word in question, containing three consonants and one vowel, is "sand." After all, the firm is based in Newport Beach. And as proud son of the Pyramids, who had more than his fill of the grainy stuff growing up in Giza, who can blame Mo for not wanting to touch any more of it?) Hey, even the best of them don't always see eye to eye (as it were). Indeed even Messrs. Case and Shiller, whose disappointing report on home prices weighed on the market yesterday, once had a heated disagreement. Goldman's elevator man dismissed Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) as "Food stamps for the middle class" but, after the online coupon-clipper advanced 8.10% to recoup a small measure of Friday's fumble, who's laughing now? Home Depot (NYSE:HD), up 3.99%, bested all blue chips even as its CFO said, "We don't like to use weather as an excuse but we think we probably lost $100 million in the month of January." Given that the firm hails from Hotlanta, I can already hear a certain someone say in his best Texas twang, "Shut up about the weather. It's cold everywhere. We're all cold. We get it."

Today in economics, a decline is forecast for January new home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF), Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), Cablevision (NYSE:CVC), and Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) all release results.

Bristow Group (NYSE:BRS): Barclays boosts BRS to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Exterran (NASDAQ:EXLP): The limited partnership gets lifted to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse, whose target price is $32.

FelCor Lodging (NYSE:FCH): Shares are moved to Outperform from Market Perform at JMP Securities.

Glacier Bancorp (NASDAQ:GBCI): GBCI gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral by DA Davidson.

Kroger (NYSELKR): After an analyst transition, JPMorgan has a Neutral on the supermarket stock, up from a prior Overweight.

LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD): The professional networking name, fresh from its big foray into China, is trading higher today. This, after getting raised to Outperform from Sector Perform by influential Internet analyst Mark Mahaney at RBC Capital. Shares, beaten down of late, are now seen as offering investors attractive value, and the price objective is $250.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE:MSO): Yesterday, the domestic diva saw her stock surge 9.95%, so "it's a good thing" the stock gets upgraded today to Buy from Hold at National Alliance Securities, as I hear she can be mean if you don't make her happy.

Masco (NYSE:MAS): KeyBanc Capital hoists the home builder to Hold from Underweight.

Polo Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL): The clothing company gets an Outperform-from-Market Perform upgrade with Wells Fargo.

Progressive Waste (NYSE:BIN): BIN is boosted to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Randgold Resources -- It's Even Better Than Finding $10 Million in a Can (MVPRO article)

Stock Downgrades: An Oscar-Week Nightmare for Dreamworks (MVPRO article)
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