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Stock Upgrades: Dot Hill Sitting on a Cash Mountain

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

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By day's end attention had turned to aluminum - or aluminium as they say across the pond - but really, yesterday was all about iron.

Margaret Thatcher once said "I don't think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime." Happily for fans of the free market, that was proved about as right as the Death of Equities in 1979, the year she came to power. "She had the eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe." So said socialist François Mitterrand of Maggie, and yesterday investors marked her passing by puckering up to Avon Products (AVP), a 1.73% gainer.

Among the Prime Minister's lesser known feats was to have helped invent soft serve ice cream. Best not to take a Tylenol in the event of a brain freeze ice-cream headache, however. Not after a downgraded Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) lost 1.13% to lead Dow (^DJI) laggards.

Today in 10:00 a.m. Eastern economics, we get reports on both February job openings and wholesale inventories. On the earnings front, A. Schulman (SHLM) and Zep, Inc. (ZEP) have each already released results this morning.

Apollo Residential Mortgage (AMTG): JPMorgan moves the equity to Overweight from Neutral.

BB&T Corporation (BBT): The regional bank is raised to Buy from Neutral at Compass Point, which predicts a period of out performance relative to peers. Accordingly its price objective, previously $34, is now $38.

BioCryst Pharmacuticals (BCRX): The stock, which surged 12.94% on Monday, is moved to Buy from Hold with a $3 price target at MLV & Co, which says peramivir for avian flu may now represent potential upside.

China Life Insurance (LFC): Citigroup lifts LFC to Buy from Neutral.

CYS Investments (CYS): Citing the company's industry-leading operating expense ratio among other favorable factors, Compass Point boosts CYS to Buy from Neutral. Its objective is $13.50.

Dominion Resources (D): Atlantic Equities increases the electric utility to Overweight from Neutral.

Dot Hill Systems (NASDAQ:HILL): HILL is hoisted to Buy from Hold at Needham, which sets a $2.50 target price on a small cap stock it says could see an improvement in revenue growth and cash flow going forward. Shares are surging more than 6% before the bell as a result.

Global Payments (GPN): The business services name is now Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

ICICI Bank Limited (IBN): Morgan Stanley moves the Bombay-based bank to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

MAKO Surgical (MAKO): MAKO is moved to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho, which also takes its target up by $2 to $14 on a company it believes will grow robotics sales amid an impressive cash flow backdrop.

PerkinElmer (PKI): ISI Group gives the stock a Strong Buy-from-Buy upgrade.

Primerica (PRI): Raymond James lifts the life insurance outfit to Outperform from Market Perform.

Qlik Technologies (QLIK): Shares are increased to Overweight from Equal Weight at Evercore.

WABCO Holdings (WBC): The auto parts outfit is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral by Robert W. Baird.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Don't Look at Luxottica Through Rose-Tinted Glasses and Stock Downgrades: St. Jude Medical No Miracle Worker.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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