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Stock Upgrades: Southwest Airlines Heads North


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

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) was recently taken to task for fares that were simply too good to be true. Today, however, its stock may be the real deal after getting upgraded by an equity analyst who cites the low-cost carrier's increasingly compelling valuation and relative lack of exposure to uncertainties abroad.
Tomorrow Mr. Market only has eyes for Janet Yellen, but yesterday was all about another gray-haired lady. Christine Lagarde's International Monetary Fund cut its annual US economic growth forecast, keeping the Dow's (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gains in check, as girls continued to rule the world. (Not that you'd know that from the tone-deaf, distaff-free photo of France's recent Global Summit of Women.) Latin America was long the last bastion of machismo, but that has changed in quite startling fashion. Alas, neither Lady Luck nor Evita are smiling on Argentina, which was a trail of tears after its main Merval (BCBA:IMV) market tumbled 10.09% on an unfavorable debt ruling. Iran and America are poised to enter into an extremely unlikely marriage of convenience in Iraq, but that's nothing -- a certain "sport" can claim those two plus Mother Russia in the strangest bedfellows of them all. It was thus somehow appropriate that World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE:WWE) should surge 2.98% on an otherwise dreary trading day. This as Minneapolis-born Jesse Ventura, who earned a fine living from wrestling before entering the infinitely phonier profession of politics, saw Minnesota's own Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) drop 1.10% despite dual upgrades.
As alluded to earlier, this morning the Federal Reserve starts its two-day policy meeting in Washington, DC. In earnings action, Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE) and La-Z-Boy (NYSE:LZB) each release results.
Now let's analyze this morning's analyst upgrades, a group encompassing a nuclear power name as well as our aforementioned Southwest Airlines.

Apollo Investment (AINV):Keefe Bruyette boosts its investment assessment to Outperform from Perform.
Armstrong World Industries (AWI): Shares get added to the Conviction Buy list at Goldman Sachs.
BlackRock Kelso (NASDAQ:BKCC): The stock is increased to Outperform from Perform by Keefe Bruyette.
easyJet (OTCMKTS:ESYJY): Davy Research raises the low-cost European air carrier all the way to Outperform from Underperform.
DSW Inc. (NYSE:DSW): Shares of Designer Shoe Warehouse are up 3.21% ahead of the open after getting upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman.
Exelon (NYSE:EXC): Jefferies juices its rating on the nuclear power play to Buy from Hold.
Expedia (NYSE:EXPE): The stock is now Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna.
Medtronic: Shares are showing strength before the bell on a trifecta of upgrades from Credit Suisse (Outperform from Neutral), Morgan Stanley (Overweight from Equal Weight), and RBC Capital (Outperform from Perform with an increased price objective of $73). All three analysts cite potential merger synergies from Medtronic's $42.9 billion acquisition of Covidien (NYSE:COV).
Orange (NYSE:ORAN): The Parisian telecom titan, our World Cup portfolio pick from France, gets raised to Outperform from Perform at Raymond James.
Southwest Airlines: Stifel Nicolaus hoists today's headline stock to Buy from Hold. Its target price is $30.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Orbitz About to Take Off

Stock Downgrades: Travelers Going Nowhere Fast
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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