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Stock Upgrades: 'Blame Canada?' Team USA, That Cuts No Ice With Tim Hortons


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

With February 14 (if not those flowers) still fresh, investors rediscovered their infatuation with equities. They did so, however, amid an astonishing example of how razor-thin is the line that separates love from hate. Even as it emerged that a proud son of Ukraine consummated a $19 billion sweetheart deal with Mark Zuckerberg over chocolate-covered strawberries on Valentine's Day, his homeland endured the single bloodiest day in its post-Soviet history, with at least 70 protesters killed. Wall Street, as is its wont, focused only on the good news, and sent Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) up in impressive fashion. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), founded by a college dropout, promptly shrugged off dual downgrades to gain 2.31% in hitting a historic high. The "kids, stay in school" message (presumably delivered on a WhatsApp) was thus a little muddled yesterday. (Slackers should still stay the course, however, as For Dummies owner John Wiley (NYSE:JW.A) and CliffsNotes publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ:HMHC) each reached fresh bests.) Among other equities on the move, Ontario's own BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) ended up 3.77%. It got clobbered early on, only to end up a winner in overtime. And we're happy for our Canadian cousins. No, really we are.

This morning in economics, January existing home sales are expected to fall from the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), Dish Network (NASDQ:DISH), and Ecolab (NYSE:ECL) are the pick of today's quarterly announcements.

Aegon (NYSE:AEG): The insurance outfit is up before the bell after being raised to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James.

BAE Systems (OTCMKTS:BAESY) Shares of Europe's largest defense contractor, fresh from yesterday's 7.66% slump, are rebounding overseas today after getting a Buy-from-Hold boost at Societe Generale.

CommScope (NASDAQ:COMM): Jefferies juices its rating on the equity, surging some 14.14% in pre-market activity, to Buy from Hold. Its price objective, previously $17.50, increases to $25.

EV Energy (NASDAQ:EVEP): Amid improved monetization prospects, Wunderlich lifts the limited partnership to Buy from Hold. Its target price is also taken up, by $1 to $40.

Remy Cointreau (OTCMKTS:REMYY): Cognac king Remy Cointreau is up impressively in today's Paris trading, this on the back an Overweight-from-Equal Weight boost by Barclays. The bank hails the spirits company's "attractive wealth demographics" in the increasingly critical Chinese market.

Rex Energy (NASDAQ:REXX): Global Hunter Securities raises REXX to Accumulate from Neutral.

Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX): RBC Capital Markets moves the stock to Outperform from Perform, increasing its objective to $60, amid good enterprise growth prospects.

Signet Jewelers (NYSE:SIG): Citing high hopes for the firm's $690 million deal with Zale Corp (NYSE:ZLC), Sterne Agee lifts the bling king to Buy from Hold. Its target is also taken up substantially, to $120 from $86.

Tim Hortons (NYSE:THI): All this and a gold medal, eh? With Team USA still smarting from our women's ice hockey loss at the Olympics, Ontario's own Tim Hortons today scores an analyst upgrade. The company, a donut and coffee icon up north, was founded by a Toronto Maple Leafs legend who was tragically killed in a 1974 car crash. Today Raymond James raises its recommendation to Outperform from Market Perform.

Total S.A. (NYSE:TOT): Goldman Sachs gives the French energy firm a Neutral-from-Sell upgrade.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Is the Cupboard Bare at the Pantry? (MVPRO article)

Stock Downgrades: Even 'President' Hamilton Gives Up on Groupon (MVPRO article)
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