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Stock Upgrades: Cisco Back in Business


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

The Dow (^DJI) continued its stellar start to the year, with bonds again enduring serious serious weakness. With both developments, we now have uneasy echoes of signs 1994, as pointed out in a new report from Bank of America's (BAC) Merrill Lynch unit. January 1994 was, of course, when Internet inventor Al Gore delivered a famous speech on the "Information Superhighway." (Hey, mock him at your peril - at least someone's still making money in Apple (AAPL)).

BT Group (BT), whose claims of inventing the hyperlink are about as believable as our former vice president's regarding the Web, tumbled 2.19%, suffering its worst day in two months after a ratings reduction. Yahoo (YHOO) oscillated wildly, ending down 3.00% despite being up approximately 2% before the bell. Can we now say Marisa Mayer's honeymoon is officially over? One thing's for sure - she should surely have replaced the company's "garbage" hold music with a little number called Love Rollercoaster, especially after its lead singer sadly passed away hours earlier.

Today the Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day policy meeting, and an interest rate announcement is expected at 2:15 p.m. Eastern. It's Hump Day of peak week for earnings reports, with Boeing (BA), ConocoPhillips (COP), Electronic Arts (EA), Facebook (FB), Fiat (PINK:FIATY), Hennes & Mauritz (PINK:HNNMY), Nintendo (PINK:NTDOY), Northrop Grumman (NOC), Phillips 66 (PSX), Qualcomm (QCOM), and Roche Holding (PINK:RHHBY) all due to release results.

Autodesk (ADSK): ADSK is now Outperform from Neutral with Wedbush, which notes ongoing improvement in US architectural activity.

Bob Evans Farms (BOBE): Highlighting both its improving margins and real estate value, Stephens boosts BOBE to Overweight from Equal Weight with a $53 price objective.

Chesapeake Energy (CHK): Shares, surging before the bell after the resignation of controversial CEO Aubrey McClendon, are boosted to Buy from Hold at Stifel Nicolaus.

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO): The key Dow (^DJI) component is raised to Outperform from Perform by Baird Equity Research, whose price objective increases to $25 from $21. The tech stock has "emerged as a more effective integrated-solutions vendor," analysts wrote in a note.

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE): ICE is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at ISI Group.

KB Home (KBH): The homebuilder is now Outperform from Neutral on account of its accelerating order growth and margin expansion.

Norfolk Southern (NSC): Atlantic Equities increases its rating to Overweight from Neutral based on a belief coal demand will bottom out in the first quarter. The target is also taken up by $10, to $86.

Tempur-Pedic (TPX): The mattress maker is moved to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc.

Vanguard Health Systems (VHS): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank, which expects the company's cash flow outlook to improve.

Viacom (VIAB): The media outfit gets moved Outperform from Neutral at Cowen, which says an increased share of advertising collars could be coming its way.

WPP Group plc (WPPGY): Jefferies gives a Buy-from-Hold hoist to the British advertising giant, whose units include Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Buffalo Wild Wings Earthbound Ahead of Super Bowl? and Stock Downgrades: Analyst Has Reservations About OpenTable.)
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