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Stock Upgrades: AT&T Gets Good Reception


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

President Obama immodestly opined in 2008 that his election would one day be seen as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow" but he is now benefiting from an inexorably rising tide on Wall Street lifting all boats. Shares snapped a two-week losing streak after US employers added 175,000 jobs in May, or the number that once flocked to see the then-senator when he was out on the campaign hustings.

Next month's jobless rate will be swelled by the best coach in basketball and, less surprisingly, a taco-licking employee of Yum Brands (YUM), which still surged some 8.5%. In the week the Tonys came to Broadway, Pfizer (PFE) of 42nd Street fittingly led the Dow (^DJI) with a 3.8% jump. Elsewhere the famously frugal billionaire founder of IKEA finally called it quits. This as Aberdeen Asset Management (OTCMKTS:ABDNF) - named after a Scottish city whose citizens are so cheap they are said to have invented copper wire by fighting over a penny - imploded 11%.

No top-tier economic data due today, the start of what is quite a quiet week for such releases. On the earnings front, Annie's (BNNY), Lululemon Athletica (LULU), Navistar International (NAV), and Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack (PBY) are all expected to reveal results.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities (ARE): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Neutral at ISI Group.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T): More good news for the telecom sector, last week's top-performer. Today this key Dow (^DJI) component is boosted to Buy from Hold with a $42 price objective at Argus, which says the company is starting to close the gap on Verizon (VZ) in building out its 4G LTE network.

Autos: Citigroup raises Porsche (OTCMKTS:POAHY) to Neutral from Sell and lifts its fellow German giant Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VLKAY) to Buy from Neutral.

Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK): The stock is taken to Outperform from Perform at Raymond James.

BB&T Corp (BBT): Evercore lifts the equity to Overweight from Equal Weight.

CyrusOne (CONE): Raymond James juices its recommendation to Strong Buy from Outperform.

Edwards Lifesciences (EQ): EW is increased to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Entergy (ETR): The electric utility gets a Buy-from-Hold hoist at Deutsche Bank.

Facebook (FB): The social networking name is now Buy from Hold with a $29 target price at Stifel, which highlights both back-to-school seasonality and Instagram monetization as potential catalysts. Shares are, accordingly, up before this morning's opening bell.

First Bancorp (FBP): Sterne Agee raises the regional bank to Buy from Neutral.

Fresenius Medical (FMS): FMS is moved to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

IMAX Corporation (IMAX): Shares are showing strength after being raised to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley & Co, which also increases its price objective by $13 to $37 amid cost control and a laser projector rollout.

Monsanto (MON): The stock is trading higher this morning on a raise to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie. Last week the seed company announced a $2 billion stock buyback program.

RF Micro Devices (RFMD): Shares are upgraded to Strong Buy at Charter Equity, which says Apple Inc's (AAPL) iPhone 5S will likely improve the company's results in the second half of 2013.

Standard Pacific (SPF): JPMorgan raises the residential construction company to Neutral from Underweight.

Silver Standard (SSRI): The commodity company gets upgraded to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank.

Stericycle (SRCL): Shares are increased to Buy from Hold with Wunderlich, which also increases its price objective to $120 from $85.

WABCO Holdings (WBC): The auto parts outfit gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Western Union (WU): Raymond James moves the money transfer titan to Outperform from Market Perform.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Time to Go Long Tallgrass Energy? and Stock Downgrades: Morgan Stanley May Have a Bad Case of the Mondays.)
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