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Stock Upgrades: Atlas Energy Finds Favor

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

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On the day it was confirmed that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiac conditions, plentiful political food for thought out of Italy was enough to give investors a heart attack. Dow Industrials (^DJI) endured their single worst session since November 7, 2012 losing 154 points in last hour alone.

All eyes are on March 1 and the sequester, but April 1 is more relevant for investors in Chesapeake Energy (CHK). That is when its endlessly controversial CEO Aubrey McClendon, who appears to take many shareholders for April Fools, is set to step down. And not a moment too soon, judging by yesterday's 6.78% slide.

Amid a bloodbath in equities, gold scored its biggest gain of the month, and Pan American Silver (PAAS) - clearly stealing a page from the Silver Linings Playbook of Barnes & Noble (BKS), which itself jumped 11.47% - rode an analyst increase to advance 3.98%. Equally ebullient analyst comments allowed Robert Mondavi owner Constellation Brands (STZ) to buck an otherwise awful trading tape by hitting the highest level in its history. No wonder Napa is the happiest place in America.

Today in economics, new home sales for January and February consumer confidence are each expected to tick up at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, and Fed head Ben Bernanke begins two days of testimony on Capitol Hill. In earnings action, AutoZone (AZO), BASF (PINK:BASFY), DreamWorks Animation (DWA), Edison International (EIX), Gulfport Energy (GPOR), HollyFrontier (HFC), Home Depot (HD), Macy's (M), Priceline (PCLN), RadioShack (RSH), R.R. Donnelley (RRD), Saks Inc. (SKS), TiVo Inc. (TIVO), and Vivendi (PINK:VIVHY) are all due to report results.

Atlas Energy (NYSE:ATLS): Wells Fargo lifts the limited partnership to Outperform from Market Perform amid an impressive growth outlook. Its price objective is now in the range of $48 to $50, up from $35 to $38 previously.

Lufkin Industries (LUFK): Macquarie moves the equity to Outperform from Neutral on account of seasonal and secular demand in the artificial lift market. The target price is also taken to up $75 from $67.

SanDisk (SNDK): Citing the company's transformation into a vertically integrated systems solution provider, RBC Capital raises its recommendation to Outperform from Sector Perform. Its price objective also increases, by $15 to $65.

Supertex (SUPX): Convinced that the firm's new products are proving popular, Stifel Nicolaus gives the shares a Buy-from-Hold boost with a $26 target.

Telefónica (TEF): The Spanish communications company gets a Perform-from-Underperform boost by Sanford Bernstein.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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