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Stock Upgrades: Bronx Boy Ralph Lauren Steals Brooklynite Janet Yellen's Thunder

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

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There must be a pony in here somewhere.
-- Ronald Reagan

Our 40th president, ever the eternal optimist, loved telling that tale of a young boy who saw only the bright side when confronted with a barnyard full of manure. Yesterday it also proved pretty profitable investment advice after My Little Pony parent Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) surged 4.53% to top the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) on an otherwise listless trading day. The toy was appropriately introduced in 1983, during the Gipper's first term. Much, however, has changed since then, and not for the better. Thirty-one years ago America created 1.1 million jobs in a single spectacular September, the highest monthly figure in the history of the republic. (Last month's total was a paltry 113,000.) And back then the equine plaything was intended to delight only young girls; in the intervening decades its peculiar appeal has bolted from the stable to jump both generations and genders. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) did edge up for a third straight session, although its infinitesimal 0.05% increase was nothing to get excited about. Blue chips were held back by a 1.11% decline in McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), whose hiring of a 100-year-old suggests the fast food firm's best days may be behind it. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), up 1.03%, enjoyed dumb luck even as SoCal made a fool of the company. Inhabitants of La La Land are still a lot less loopy than their cousins to the north, who waited hours in wet weather for stale bagels. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR), the bane of David Einhorn's existence, added 2.94% to last week's 33% increase. He should have stuck with Famous Dave's of America (NASDAQ:DAVE), which skyrocketed 15.25%.

Today in economics, analysts expect an uptick in December 2013 wholesale trade data at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Barclays (NYSE:BCS), TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP), and Western Union (NYSE:WU) all release results.

Burlington Stores (NYSE:BURL): Morgan Stanley moves the company, famous for its coats, to Overweight from Equal Weight.

CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL): Shares are now Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie

European Autos: Goldman Sachs gives BMW Group (OTCMKTS:BAMXY) a Buy-from-Neutral boost and adds Peugeot (OTCMKTS:PEUGY) to its Conviction Buy list.

Finisar (NASDAQ:FNSR): Shares are hoisted to Buy from Hold at Jefferies. Its price objective, previously $24, increases to $30.

L'Oreal (OTCMKTS:LRLCY): UBS upgrades the cosmetics name, whose shares surged some 7.04% yesterday, to Buy from Neutral.

Primerica (NYSE:PRI): The stock is increased to Outperform from Perform by Keefe Bruyette.

Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL): Today is meant to be all about Fed head Janet Yellen, pride of Brooklyn, but a boy born in the Bronx as Ralph Lifshitz may have something to say about that. The fashion icon, who wisely changed his name, today sees his stock taken to Overweight from Neutral at Atlantic Equities.

Ryanair (OTCMKTS:RYAAY): Morgan Stanley adds the budget British carrier, on a decent recent run, to its Europe Best Ideas list.

Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ:STLD): Shares are lifted to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM): The Indian automotive stock, which jumped 5.62% yesterday, is up another 3.83% as we speak after a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Nomura.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Steal Her Heart With Pandora This Valentine's Day

Stock Downgrades: US Steel Sinks Like Lead Balloon
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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