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Stock Upgrades: Oh, What a Beautiful Morning for Oklahoma's Own Sonic Corporation

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

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Early days these may be, but if investors continue to short stocks, this month may indeed turn into A Long December. (Incidentally, that Counting Crows song came out in December 1996, the month that Alan Greenspan famously warned investors against "irrational exuberance" in equities. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) stood at approximately 6,000 back then. It's thus quite curious that the former Fed head now sees absolutely "no bubble" with the bourse at about 16,000.) US indices fell for a third straight session as the market's recent, and much ballyhooed, "melt-up" continued to cool off. A little too literally in the case of Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), which dropped 1.21% after filmgoers in Florida, expecting to see the family-friendly Frozen, were treated instead to an R-rated hot steamy sex scene. (Truth be told, a rating reduction likely didn't help either.) By contrast, a broker boost saw Steve Jobs' co-creation end up 2.74%, although you definitely don't want to confuse Apples (NASDAQ:AAPL) with Oranges (NYSE:ORA). Ford Motor (NYSE:F), which fell 2.93%, was a lemon. Madison Square Garden (NASDAQ:MSG) moved up after Mr. Moving' Out - a notoriously bad driver - announced he was movin' in.

In terms of economic events that may move US markets today, September and October new-home sales, along with the Institute for Supply Management's November services index, are each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. For its part, the Federal Open Market Committee releases its Beige Book, detailing regional financial conditions in a dozen districts at 2:00 p.m. Regarding specific stocks, expect earnings announcements out of Aéropostale (NYSE:ARO), Bob Evans Farms (NASDAQ:BOBE), Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF.B), Express Inc. (NYSE:EXPR), G-III Apparel (NASDAQ:GIII), Guess Inc. (NYSE:GES), Mattress Firm Holding (NASDAQ:MFRM), New York & Co. (NYSE:NWY), and Synopsys (NASDAQ:SNPS).

BB&T Corp (NYSE:BBT): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.

CoreSite Realty (NYSE:COR): The office Real Estate Investment Trust gets raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Evercore.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB): Shares are added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs. Its price objective, previously $40, increases to $44 amid improving revenue gains.

French Automakers: Peugeot Citroën (OTCMKTS:PEUGY) is up in Europe today after getting added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs, which cites its China prospects. Renault (OTCMKTS:RNSDF) is also trading higher this morning after being boosted to Neutral from Sell.

Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI): JCI is juiced to Outperform from Perform at RBC Capital, which also takes its target price up by $16 to $61.

Owens Corning (NYSE:OC): Owens Corning stock is now Buy from Neutral at SunTrust.

Randgold Resources (NASDAQ:GOLD): Rangold Resources is raised to Buy from Hold at Investec. Stock in Rangold Resources has suffered along with a steep decline in spot bullion recently.

Sonic Corporation (NASDAQ:SONC): (Hat tip to Rodgers and Hammerstein for today's title.) Its name may instantly evoke images of hedgehogs, but hedge funds may be the ones high on the hog if they invest in the Oklahoma City fast food firm, famous for its roller-skating carhops. This after Sonic Corporation stock scores an Outperform-from-Market Perform upgrade with William Blair. (Adding to its impressive morning, Sonic Corporation was simultaneously started with a Buy at Buckingham Research today, whose price objective is $24.)

Sunstone Hotel (NYSE:SHO): Raymond James raises its recommendation to Outperform from Market Perform.

Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC): Shares are moved to Overweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley amid a beneficial pricing backdrop.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Goldman Sachs Tells Citigroup to Get Out of Town and New Stock Coverage: Time Warner Cable, Despised by an English Knight, Has a Great Day)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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