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Stock Upgrades: Bulls Run on Nike

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Happy talk, dismissed as hot air by Harry Reid only 24 hours earlier, clearly had investors liking what they heard yesterday. Stocks surged, due not to any concerted action in Washington but instead after additional speechifying from House Speaker John Boehner and Orator in Chief President Obama. The latter called for a "fair and balanced" approach to addressing our fiscal cliff crisis and, if Fox News won't appreciate the appropriation of its most famous phrase, twin consolations arrived with its owner News Corp (NWS) advancing another 1.80% while Mr. Murdoch's nemesis British Sky Broadcasting (BSYBY) received a ratings reduction this morning.

Equities ended at session highs after late speculation the Fed may be about to embark on QE4 because, well, the approximately 300 easing moves that have occurred worldwide over the past 14 months clearly aren't quite enough. Retail stocks scored good gains, with Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) -- up 8.6% last week and 29.66% the week before -- rising a further 2.78%. Its male models famously need no excuse to strip and Limited Brands (LTD), whose Victoria's Secret chain had the ladies similarly bearing all in the aisles on Black Friday, also ticked up 3.42%, presumably on naked short covering.

Today in economics, analysts expect October pending home sales to tick up at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Barnes & Noble (BKS), Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (CBRL), Kroger (KR), Pacific Sunwear of California (PSUN), Splunk (SPLK), Tiffany (TIF), Ulta Salon (ULTA), and Zumiez (ZUMZ) are all due to reveal results.

AvalonBay (AVB): The real estate outfit is raised to Market Perform from Underperform by BMO Capital.

CarMax (KMX): Shares get increased to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs, which also takes its price target up by $10 to $42. Catalysts include used car supply and a re-acceleration in growth.

DR Horton (DHI): Shares are now Neutral from Sell at Compass Point, which increases its price objective by $5 to $18.

Google (GOOG): The Internet search giant gets a Buy-from-Hold upgrade at Oracle Research.

Guess Inc. (GES): GES gets upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray, which cites both impressive earnings and a brand stabilization.

IAC/InterActiveCorp. (IACI): Wells Fargo moves the Match.com owner to Outperform from Market Perform amid a more compelling current valuation.

Infoblox (BLOX): BLOX is boosted to Outperform from Perform with Wedbush.

Micros Systems (MCRS): Shares are moved to Buy from Neutral at Compass Point, whose target is $50.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) The athletic apparel and footwear giant gets upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities, which takes its target up to $112 from $101. Inventory cleaning and impressive cash generation are both seen as catalysts, and shares are up before the bell.

Northstar Realty (NRF): NRF is now Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital.

Public Storage (PSA): KeyBanc Capital hoists the company to Hold from Underweight with occupancy at near record levels.

Research In Motion (RIMM): Shares are surging 11.7% ahead of the open on a boost to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs, which takes its price objective up by $7 to $16. "We now assess a 30% chance of success for BlackBerry 10 given positive early reviews", its analysts wrote in a note.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Taser Suffers Stunning Setback and New Stock Coverage: Messing With Texas Instruments.)
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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