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Stock Upgrades: Diamond Foods Looks Like a Gem

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

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Cruz and cruise combined to scupper stocks, with shares sinking for a fifth straight session as the Tea Party poster child sent equities deeper into hot water already occupied by an utterly unloved Carnival Corporation (NYSE:CCL), which dived 5.33%. As a result, the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) endured its longest losing streak all year. Amid the wreckage, a broker boost sent Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) up 2.08% to a fresh best, even as fully 15% of us still don't get this whole Interweb thing. A day that began with Letta ringing the opening bell ended with the Post Office in ever more dire straits. Its two cents' worth involved a proposal to raise stamp prices by three cents. This as the lumbering bureaucracy is expected to lose $6 billion this year, the sort of incompetence that usually only occurs in the private sector.

Today's economic data includes August pending home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, with analysts calling for a fall. In earnings action, consulting company Accenture (NYSE:ACN), fashion firm Hennes & Mauritz (OTCMKTS:HNNMY), spice stock McCormick (NYSE:MKC), and Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) newbie Nike (NYSE:NKE) are all due to release results.

Aéropostale (NYSE:ARO): BlueFin boosts the clothing company to Outperform from Neutral.

AmBev (NYSE:ABV): The Brazilian beverage behemoth, officially called Companhia de Bebidas das Americas, is increased to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT): The tech name is taken to Buy from Hold by Berenberg.

Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CBST): Leerink Swann lifts the firm to Outperform from Market Perform. Its target is increased substantially, by $19 to $76.

Diamond Foods (NASDAQ:DMND): The snack stock whose offerings include Pop Secret and Kettle Brand gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at BB&T Capital.

Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY): Shares in the energy company get upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Portland General Electric (NYSE:POR): Wells Fargo juices the electric utility to Outperform from Market Perform.

Watsco (NYSE:WSO): Robert W. Baird boosts the wholesale electronics outfit to Outperform from Neutral.

W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW): The industrial stock is now Neutral from Sell at Citigroup.

Xylem (NYSE:XYL): The diversified machinery name is moved to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays, which also increases its price objective to $33 from $26.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Diamondback Energy Is Strictly Rhinestone and New Stock Coverage: Diamond Seller Blue Nile Set to Sparkle.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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