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Stock Upgrades: AOL, You've Got a Check in the Mail

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

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On Wall Street, the fat cats have nine lives. The Dow (^DJI) hit its ninth record of the year on a day of Hollywood endings. Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto (MON), saw his stock jump 4.42% while surging movie streaming stock Netflix (NFLX) gained 5.43% to top all S&P 500 (^GSPC) issues.

As the market turned Monday's frowns upside down, there were frozen smiles all around at Allergan (AGN), the Botox maker hitting the highest level in its history in a particularly nice 73rd birthday present for Nancy Pelosi. Alcohol outfit Brown Forman (BF.A) - a dental play if you are Ke$ha - also hit a fresh peak. As did more a traditional tooth titan, namely Colgate (CL), while Sirona Dental Systems (SIRO) rose 3.77%.

The Mexican stock market enjoyed its best day in over a year, with América Móvil (AMX) advancing 1.88% on an upgrade. This as plucky economic underdog USA, unemployment rate 7.7%, held mighty Mexico, unemployment rate 4.7%,to a tie.

Today in economics, analysts expect a slight slippage in pending home sales for February at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, expect Allied Irish Banks (AIB), China Automotive (CAAS), China Life Insurance (LFC), Paychex (PAYX), PVH Corp. (PVH), Red Hat (RHT), and Texas Industries (TXI) to release results.

Aegon (AEG): The Dutch financial firm gets upgraded to Conviction Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL): Barclays boosts the resurgent Internet outfit, long known for its "You've Got Mail" catchphrase and up 87.41% in the past year, to Overweight from Equal Weight. Shares are, accordingly, up another 1.77% ahead of the opening bell.

Banco Bradesco (BBD): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the Brazilian financial firm to Buy from Neutral.

Capital Product Partners (CPLP): The Greek shipping stock is moved to Neutral from Underperform by Bank of America-Merrill.

Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF): The ailing iron ore company gets a Neutral-from-Sell increase at Goldman Sachs. (Note that shares also suffered a simultaneous downgrade at Morgan Stanley this morning; who says all Wall Street analysts tend to move in tandem?) So far Morgan Stanley's move appears to be carrying more weight, with the stock currently shedding another 7.05% before the opening bell.

Community Health (CYH): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Underperform at BMO Capital.

DSW Inc. (DSW): Designer Shoe Warehouse is now Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

General Mills (GIS): The cereal giant, which traded atop all-time highs on Monday after gaining 4.1% last week, gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Argus, whose price objective is $57. Soups, snacks, and Greek yogurt are seen as additional share price catalysts.

Genomic Health (GHDX): Leerink lifts the equity to Outperform from Market Perform.

GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL): The São Paulo based air carrier scores an Outperform-from-Market Perform upgrade at Raymond James after its earnings announcement.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (PINK: LVMUY) The last word in luxury is lifted to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Mattress Firm Holding (MFRM): A post-earnings upgrade for the stock, moved to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

Nokia (NOK): The Scandinavian telecom titan is now Buy from Neutral at Swedbank.

PG&E Corporation (PCG): The electric utility is up nicely this morning on an Outperform-from Market Perform boost by Sanford Bernstein.

Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD): Shares are named a Top Pick at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

Portugal Telecom (PT): Staying in Europe, PT is taken to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Sykes Enterprises (SYKE): Shares are moved to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Trulia (TRLA): Deutsche Bank hoists the online real estate outfit to Buy from Hold.

ViroPharma (VPHM): The biotech gets boosted to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

VMware (VMW): ISI Group gives the tech stock a Strong Buy-from-Buy boost, assigning a price objective of $115 on an outfit it says stands to benefit from sales of the vCloud Suite.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Scarlet Letter for Crimson Exploration and Stock Downgrades: Hump Day Headache for Cliffs Natural Resources.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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