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Stock Upgrades: Green Ink for Red Hat

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

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Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW), which jumped 6.64%, enjoyed a stellar session, but the same sadly couldn't be said of either Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) or its CEO who, true to form, probably called it quits by giving News Corp's (NASDAQ:NWSA) Mr. Murdoch the finger. Indeed blue chips were the only one of the three main US stock markets to drop as equities continued their sluggish start to 2014. The S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) was up, although as it advanced all of 0.28%, its activity was akin to watching paint dry. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW) surged 2.01% to a historic high, and over at Benjamin Moore, Warren Buffett has suddenly made watching paint dry sexy. (A little too sexy, if truth be told.) Unlike the self-made Oracle of Omaha, Paris Hilton made her money the old-fashioned way - she inherited it, despite the hotel heiress doth protesting too much. Yesterday, alas, Paris' bank balance slumped a bit, as Hilton Worldwide (NYSE:HLT) ended off 1.48% despite attracting a slew of upbeat analyst initiations. Elsewhere, divorce rumors continue to dog McGraw Hill (NYSE:MHFI). Tiny Tim, the third man in their relationship, must surely shoulder much of the blame for such a sad state of affairs. And Pimco opted not to stop CEO Mohamed El-Erian from calling it quits. That took guts. Or rather Balls, the British-based employee who has been promoted to deputy chief investment officer in an attempt to fill the Egyptian's shoes. With one Ed Cox recently taking Donald Trump to task, it may be time to revive a Minyanville classic about their famous namesakes.

It's another day bereft of any top-tier economic data, but Hump Day of a busy earnings week is here. Expect quarterly results out of Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT), Coach (NYSE:COH), eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY), Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX), Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Raymond James (NYSE:RJF), SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK), United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), and Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC).

Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN): Shares are now Strong Buy from Neutral with a $65 price objective at ISI Group, which cites the company's ever-expanding customer base.

Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW): Dow Chemical, whose stock surged 6.64% yesterday, is now Neutral from Reduce at SunTrust.

Diageo (NYSE:DEO): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch adds the Guinness maker to its Most Preferred Consumer Staples/Luxury List of favored equities.

Drugstores: ISI Group upgrades both CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) (Strong Buy from Buy) and Walgreen (NYSE:WAG) (Neutral from Cautious, with its target price being taken up by $9 to $64).

Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR): Juniper Networks is now Perform from Underperform with a $25 target price at FBR Capital, which is encouraged by recent investor activism.

NuVasive (NASDAQ:NUVA): Leerink Swann lifts the stock to Outperform from Perform. Its price objective, previously $33, increases to $45.

Red Hat (NYSE:RHT): Finnish engineer Linus Torvalds, who invented the Linux operating system in 1991, once famously said, "Software is like sex: It's better when it's free." Red Hat, which is the largest seller of Linux, has certainly given investors plenty of (not so) cheap thrills of late, having reached a fresh peak only last week. Today its stock is taken to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer.

Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE:SNI): The Food Network owner is now Neutral from Sell at Citigroup.

Unilever (NYSE:UN): Anglo-Dutch consumer products powerhouse Unilever, whose ubiquitous household brands include Ben & Jerry's, gets raised to Sector Perform from Underperform at at RBC Capital Markets. Its stock target price is also taken up, by $2 to $32.

See also:

Stock Downgrades: Oracle's Larry Ellison Lacks His Daughter's Knack for Hollywood Endings

New Stock Coverage: CIT Group's John Thain Just Had the $87,784 Rug Pulled Out From Under Him
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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