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Stock Upgrades: Xbox Marks the Sweet Spot for Microsoft


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

Shiller won an economics Nobel while getting out of the shower, but investors mercifully managed to recover from their early (bubble) bath. Assisted, it must be added, by a 2.10% Columbus Day jump in Columbus-based Bath & Body Works owner L Brands (NYSE:LTD). The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), down an Econ 101 during the morning's depths, ended up 64 by the afternoon amid signs of progress on Capitol Hill. Equities have thus advanced for four straight sessions although, compared with Wall Street's showing 17 years ago to the day during irrationally exuberant 1996, the gains were small potatoes.

As Stockholm honored a man who presciently warned of a housing house of cards in 2004, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) surged 7.82% to top the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) due to the success of its House of Cards. (This on a day D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) tumbled 2.14% in a terrible tape for homebuilders.) Speculation raged that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) may choose Mark Hurd, a man hounded out of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) for alleged sexual harassment, as its next CEO. On this, the 22nd anniversary of Clarence Thomas' confirmation to the Supreme Court, even one of Warren's protégés finds himself ensnared in a similar scandal.

There isn't any top-tier economic data due today but third quarter earnings season starts in earnest with Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Mosaic (NYSE:MOS), and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) all due to report results.

Cogent Communications (NASDAQ:CCOI): Citigroup boosts the stock to Buy from Neutral.

ITT Educational (NYSE:ESI): ESI is increased to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT): The maker of Xbox and Windows is showing strength this morning after being moved to Buy from Hold at Jefferies. Its price objective, previously $33, increases to $42. In the bank's opinion, Office 365 cloud strategies offer promise.

Sharp Corp (OTCMKTS:SHCAY): Jefferies juices the Japanese electronics giant to Hold from Underperform.

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA): The cult car company is taken to Outperform from Neutral with Wedbush, which says a hitherto-skeptical public is gradually coming around to the idea of electric vehicles.

Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN): Susquehanna boosts the semiconductor stock to Neutral from Negative.

Zurich Insurance Group (OTCMKTS:ZURVY): Shares are showing strength in today's European trading after getting taken to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Advance Auto Parts Hits a Pothole and Stock Downgrades: Default Lies With Dassault.)
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