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Stock Upgrades: Apple Inc. Stops the Rot

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

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In a month of triple-digit heat, the Dow (^DJI) cooled off after enduring 15 triple-digit moves. Still, blue chips partied 1999 style in the first half, posing their best such showing for 14 years. Silvio Berlusconi prepared for prison but his Mediaset (MDIUY) was certainly a conviction buy, surging some 15% last week.

National Bank of Greece (NBG), down 32.76%, finds itself in the Pandora's Box of Athenian legend. Faring far better was Pandora Media (P), which rode bullish research to rise 21.63%, and Danish jeweler Pandora A/S (PNDZY), which jumped 11%. Another good gainer on the first full lazy crazy hazy week of summer was La-Z-Boy (LZB). It advanced 8.63%, this as a similarly slothful soccer star scored a goal while remaining seated.

No top-tier corporate earnings announcements today, but the June Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index is out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

Apple Inc. (AAPL): The troubled tech stock, which tumbled 25.5% in the first half of the year, is showing strength today after being raised to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James. Its price objective is $600. The broker cites attractive financials allied to a compelling current valuation.

BASF SE (BASFY): The German chemical giant gets an Overweight-from-Equal Weight upgrade at HSBC Securities.

CSR plc – ADS (CSRE): Jefferies juices the semiconductor stock to Buy from Hold.

Expeditors International of Washington (EXPD): Shares get upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital amid margin improvement and increasingly favorable ocean freight forwarding fundamentals.

F5 Networks, Inc. (FFIV): The stock is boosted to Buy from Hold at Needham, whose target price is $85. Investor worries regarding virtualization are exaggerated, in its opinion.

HENNES & MAURITZ AB (HNNMY): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch raises the Swedish fashion retailer, better known as H&M, to Buy from Neutral. The company is expected to see same-store-sales gains in the back end of 2013. Shares are, accordingly, surging almost 4% in Europe this morning.

Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC (IGH): The accommodation outfit is hoisted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc (IFF): IFF gets increased to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (MRVL): Lazard lifts the stock to Buy from Neutral.

Nokia Corporation (NOK): The Finish telecom titan, up some 7% as I write, gets an unusual 180 degree (Overweight from Underweight) upgrade at JPMorgan.

Pandora Media Inc (P): Morgan Stanley moves the stock, a stellar performer last week, to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

Regeneron Pharmceuticals Inc (REGN): REGN gets raised to Overweight from Equal-Weight with Piper Jaffray.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS): Investec increases its investment opinion on the beleaguered British bank to Buy from Hold.

Solera Holdings Inc (SLH): William Blair moves the stock to Outperform from Market Perform.

Steel Dynamics, Inc. (STLD): STLD is raised to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Tyco International Ltd. (TYC): Morgan Stanley takes TYC to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

Veolia Environnement (VE): Shares are now Neutral from Sell at Credit Suisse.

WhiteWave Foods Co (WWAV): The stock is now Overweight from Equal-Weight with Morgan Stanley.

YRC Worldwide, Inc. (YRCW): BB&T Capital Markets moves the shares to Buy from Hold.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Wall Street Research Runs From Research In Motion Ltd and New Stock Coverage: You Won't Find a Better Buy Than Best Buy Co., Inc.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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