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Stock Upgrades: Amgen, Inc. Boosted by Blockbuster Biotech Deal

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

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When mordant wit Dorothy Parker was told of the death of Silent Calvin Coolidge, the taciturn chap who made money talk most eloquently in The Roaring Twenties, she reportedly responded by asking, "How could they tell?" Ms. Parker's birth on August 22 appropriately coincided with the day Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) went into meltdown mode for three hours and 11 minutes, yet at the end of it all, investors were similarly hard-pressed to notice any discernible difference. Not only did the index, up 1.53%, easily outperform both the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJII) and S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX), but NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ) itself even ended the week in the green.

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) jumped 5.19% on Friday to finish above $40 for the first time, and Bill Gates' Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) surged 7.29% in the same session. Far better, then, to drop out of Harvard than stay the course at Trump University. Gates and Steve Ballmer once famously appeared in A Night at the Roxbury spoof, geek dancing to the plaintive cry of "What is love?" Mister Softee's CEO must now know the answer, for his farewell letter used the four-letter word six times in a single paragraph. They say if you truly love someone, liberate them. Maybe so, for Free People owner Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ:URBN) just gained 7.70%. Although, as its offerings honor Marxist revolutionaries, presumably the company cares not a jot about anything as grubby as making money.

It's a low-key start to the week for corporate earnings reports, but Chinese Internet outfit Qihoo 360 Technology (NYSE:QIHU) is trading sharply higher this morning after its Q2 announcement beat Street estimates.

Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE): The Acrobat and Flash maker gets moved to Outperform from Sector Perform at Pacific Crest.

Aeropostale Inc (NYSE:ARO) The teen retailer, which tumbled an NYSE-worst 20.22% on Friday, is today taken to Hold from Sell by Brean Capital.

Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE:ATK): Drexel Hamilton hoists the munitions maker to Buy from Hold.

Altera Corporation (NASDAQ:ALTR): Citigroup takes the technology name to Buy from Neutral.

Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN): The world's biggest biotechnology firm, fresh from sealing a $10.4 billion deal to buy oncology powerhouse Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX), is now Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray. Amgen shares are currently surging some 5.11% as I write, which doesn't often happen with the acquiring company, so the market clearly likes this combination.

Arkansas Best Corporation (NASDAQ:ABFS): Raymond James takes the transportation stock to Strong Buy from Market Perform.

Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG): Shares are moved to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

Boise Cascade Co (NYSE:BCC): DA Davidson takes the stock to Buy from Neutral on account of a solid balance sheet and sell-off that is overdone, in the bank's estimation.

Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners LP (NYSE:BEP): Credit Suisse lifts the limited partnership to Outperform from Neutral.

Darling International Inc. (NYSE:DAR): Canaccord Genuity gives the waste management firm a Buy-from-Hold increase.

Dollar Tree, Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTR): The discount retailer gets raised to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS): A unusual 180 degree upgrade for the toy-maker, today taken to Buy from Sell at Citi.

Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT): Susquehanna increases its investment assessment to Positive from Neutral.

PC-Tel Inc (NASDAQ:PCTI): The wireless communications company is boosted to Buy from Hold with Wunderlich, whose target price also increases to $10.50 from $10.00. Catalysts include encouraging OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) industry developments.

Pinnacle Financial Partners (NASDAQ:PNFP): Wunderlich hoists the regional financial firm to Buy from Hold amid the potential for double digit net loan growth. Its price objective, previously $31, is now $34.

ResMed Inc. (NYSE:RMD): Shares are lifted to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Time to Disown Family Dollar Stores, Inc. and New Stock Coverage: Hush Puppies Owner Wolverine World Wide, Inc. Making Money Talk.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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