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Stock Upgrades: Medtronic, Minnesota Strong Since 1949, Now Says 'Kiss Me, I'm Irish'


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

When courting votes in the heartland, Chicago sexagenarian Hillary Clinton always made sure to mention how she was born "in the middle of America, in the middle of the century." The same could be said for 65-year-old Minneapolis medical-device maker Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), at least until today. Now, however, it is making googly Irish eyes at the Emerald Isle purely for tax purposes. (As Bono can attest, U2 can be Irish for big bucks.) Maybe Medtronic will enjoy the last laugh. For its stock -- in extremely unusual market activity for an acquiring company -- is surging some 12.03% this morning after buying Dublin's own Covidien (NYSE:COV) for $42.9 billion.
If, as they say, "a week is a long time in politics," then it is an absolute eternity on Wall Street. Only seven days ago stocks were serenely cruising to one record high after another, then came Eric Cantor and Iraq, and suddenly such historic highs are but misty water-colored memories. Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) and S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) shares each ended down amid increased geopolitical risk. "Iran Ready to Help Iraq" ran the Wall Street Journal's hitherto-unimaginable headline. This, with Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) surging 10.71% after giving its Iranian COO Ali Rowghani the boot even as a Stone Age outfit in Iraq showed its savvy on the social media platform by live tweeting its barbarity. Four years made a world of difference for Spain, whose suddenly slumping soccer team were world champions in 2010 even as its economy imploded. Now the roles are reversed, with the land of the matador enjoying such a bull run that its 10-year government bond yield startlingly broke below its American equivalent. Going back 36 years, echoes of 1978 were everywhere as Latin America hosted its first global futbol fiesta since then and Lufthansa (OTCMKTS:DLAKY) journeyed back to its Goodfellas nadir, with its stock slumping on a profit warning. Don't worry though, we won't soon see a return to those distant days, back when Argentina was an economic basket case and our own labor force participation rate was a paltry 62.8%.
Today's quarterly earnings announcements include Korn/Ferry International (NYSE:KFY) and Layne Christensen (NASDAQ:LAYN).
Now let's analyze this morning's analyst upgrades, a group encompassing semiconductor and broadcasting stocks as well as our aforementioned Medtronic.

AK Steel (NYSE:AKS): Bank of America Merrill Lynch lifts the commodity company to Buy from Neutral, sending it up 3.58% before the bell.
CenterPoint Energy (NYSE:CNP): Shares get moved to Outperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital.
Digital Realty Trust (NYSE:DLR): Jefferies juices its recommendation to Buy from Neutral.
DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH): The stock is now Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.
Envision Healthcare Holdings (NYSE:EVHC): Goldman Sachs gives the equity a substantial Conviction Buy-from-Neutral upgrade.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (OTCMKTS:LVMUY): The last name in luxury gets added to Nomura's European Buy List of favored continental equities.
Medtronic: Today's headline upgrade is boosted by both JPMorgan (Overweight from Neutral) and William Blair (Outperform from Perform).
Micron (NASDAQ:MU): Robert W. Baird takes the tech name to Outperform from Neutral amid an anticipated rebound in DRAM (Dynamic Random-Access Memory) end markets. Its price objective, previously $25, increases to $42.
Nimble Storage (NYSE:NMBL): NMBL is now Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.
Progressive (NYSE:PGR): The insurance outfit, home of endlessly perky spokesperson Flo, is hoisted to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank.
Southcross Energy (NYSE:SXE): Goldman lifts the limited partnership to Neutral from Sell.
Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB): Shares, advancing 11.28% ahead of the open, are boosted to Buy from Neutral at Jefferies.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Is American Express a House of Cards?
Stock Downgrades: GNC Holdings Forgot to Take Its Vitamins
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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