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Stock Upgrades: American Campus Communities, Inc. Is Kicking It Old School


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

Michael Moore, who called one of his movies Capitalism: A Love Story (ironically, I believe), just filed for divorce after two decades, but investors everywhere are continuing their utter infatuation with equities. The Dow (^DJI) and S&P 500 (^GSPC) Index each hit historic highs, and if their infinitesimal respective increases of 0.51% and 0.71% seem deadly dull, that masks much action under the Surface. (Assuming an unloved Microsoft (MSFT), fresh from tumbling 12% in its worst week for four years, will forgive the phrase.) Bill Gates thus not only saw his net worth considerably cut, but he also had to endure a hitherto unknown American becoming the richest person in all human history after eBay Inc.'s (EBAY) Paypal unit briefly bestowed $92,233,720,368,547,800 on him. The online auctioneer's generosity is to be applauded, especially in a week its disowned stock imploded 8.5%. Elsewhere aging Internet outfit Yahoo (YHOO) reported a steep slide in revenue, which comedian Conan O'Brien claimed the company "found out about by Googling (GOOG) it." Yet with the former surging 6.9% to a fresh multi-year peak, even as the latter tumbled 2.9%, Marissa Mayer had the last laugh.

This morning in economics, June existing home sales are expected to tick up from the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Peak week for Q2 earnings reports is upon us, with today's quarterly announcements expected to include Crane Company (CR), Gannett (GCI), Halliburton (HAL), Hasbro (HAS), Kimberly-Clark (KMB), McDonald's (MCD), Netflix (NFLX), Royal Philips (PHG), Six Flags (SIX), Texas Instruments (TXN), UBS AG (UBS), and Zions Bancorporation (ZION).

African Barrick Gold (ABGLY): JPMorgan moves the commodity company to Neutral from Underweight.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU): The French telecom firm is taken to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James.

American Campus Communities, Inc. (ACC): Shares are boosted to Buy from Hold at MLV & Co, which also takes its target price up by $2 to $50 amid a belief that leasing issues for the 2014/15 academic year are overstated.

Antofagasta (ANFGY): The copper miner gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO): The advertising outfit is boosted to Neutral from Sell by brokerage boutique B Riley, which also increases its price objective to $7.00 from $4.50. An improving macroeconomic backdrop in Europe is one reason for the firm's heightened optimism.

Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs, which says immigration reform concerns may be exacerbated.

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS): Characterizing the company as an "undervalued growth story," Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

NeoPhotonics (NPTN): NPTN is now Strong Buy from Buy at Needham.

Schlumberger (SLB): The oil services stock gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Global Hunter. The target is also taken up, to $97 from $80, amid optimism over its stock buyback intentions among other favorable factors.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Analyst Walks All Over Crocs, Inc. and New Stock Coverage: Tremor Video Inc All Set to Shake Things Up.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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