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Stock Upgrades: Changing Tides Makes Procter & Gamble a Better Bet


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

A week that began with Tumblr is ending with I'll Tumble For Ya. Stocks slid for a second straight session amid Tokyo troubles and fears here of a hard landing for quantitative easing. Bucking a bad day for blue chips, an upgraded Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) surged some 17.10%. Its $3.63 advance took it above $24, the price paid for the entire isle of Manhattan on this very date in 1626. (Sorry Meg, but Mr. Minuit may have you beat there, especially adjusted for inflation.) Hot dog heavyweight Nathan's Famous (NATH) franks fell 3.40% even as it reopened in Coney Island. Thus does a bad week for Weiners conclude, as Anthony's Pittsburgh mix up promptly sent Steel City's own Alcoa (AA) plunging 1.73% to post the Dow's (^DJI) poorest performance.

Ahead of the long Memorial Day weekend, the bond market is scheduled to close early. On the corporate front, expect quarterly earnings announcements out of Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Destination XL Group (DXLG), Foot Locker (FL), Hibbett Sports (HIBB), Tsakos Energy Navigation (TNP), and UTStarcom (UTSI).

Alliance Data (ADS): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform by William Blair.

DDR Corp. (DDR): Jefferies raises the retail Real Estate Investment Trust to Buy from Hold.

Gordmans Stores (GMAN): GMAN gets an Overweight-from-Neutral upgrade at Piper Jaffray.

Novo Nordisk (NVO): The Danish drug stock is now Buy from Neutral at Natixis.

Pandora Media (P): Shares, currently up 18.44% before the bell following impressive first quarter earnings, get increased to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital. Mobile monetization offers promise for the Internet radio outfit.

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG): A changing of the guard that sees AG Lafley return as CEO prompts UBS to boost the Dow (^DJI) member to Buy from Neutral. Its brands include Crest, Gillette, and Tide. In what looks like a weak overall open in equities, its shares are up about 2.92% as I write this morning.

RTI International Metals (RTI): Citigroup adds the stock to its Top Picks Live list.

Sherwin-Williams (SHW): Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation on the paint powerhouse to Outperform from Neutral with a $205 price objective (up from $180) after yesterday's constructive analyst meeting.

Wendy's (WEN): Janney Capital juices its investment opinion on the fast food firm to Buy from Neutral.

Whiting Petroleum (WLL): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Look at LeapFrog Jump and Stock Downgrades: Rue21 Exits Easy Street.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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