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Stock Upgrades: E*TRADE Babies Set for Mother of All Rallies?

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

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It's not for me to argue with T.S. Eliot - especially in this the season of poetry - but April, far from being "the cruelest month," has historically been the single best for blue chips. Alas this year the Dow (^DJI) does not appear to be adhering to the script, with a second straight decline leaving stocks poised for their worst week of 2013.

While the market continues to throw raspberries at investors, grocery giant Fairway (FWM) took its two-session post IPO surge to an astonishing 42.39%. It has come a long way from humble origins in 1933, the depths of the Depression. Brother, can you spare a dime? More like apples going for a wooden nickle if you were lucky.

So some perspective, please, amid all the hand wringing as Apple (AAPL) tumbles to "only" $392.05. In a session that saw many shareholders get soaked, the umbrellas of Travelers (TRV) scored a broker boost and Verizon (VZ), flooded during Super Storm Sandy, surged 2.77% to a new high water mark.

No top-tier economic data due today, but a frenzied first full week of quarterly earnings announcements concludes with Baker Hughes (BHI), General Electric (GE), Honeywell (HON), Kimberly-Clark (KMB), McDonald's (MCD), Schlumberger(SLB), State Street (STT), Under Armour (UA), and Indian outsourcer Wipro (WIT) all expected to release results.

Astoria Financial (AF): Shares get raised to Perform from Underperform at Keefe Bruyette.

AutoNation (AN): The stock, a stellar performer yesterday, is upgraded to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank.

El Paso Electric (EE): EE is increased to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

E*TRADE (NASDAQ:ETFC): The discount broker, famous for its baby ads, is moved to Market Perform from Underperform at Keefe Bruyette.

Fiat Industrial (PINK:FNDSF): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal-Weight.

MAXIMUS (MMS): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Raymond James.

NeoPhotonics (NPTN): The stock is now Buy from Hold with a $7.50 target price at Needham, which notes potential strength in China.

Nokia (NOK): NOK, which nose dived yesterday, is upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform by BMO Capital Markets.

Overstock.com (OSTK): The stock, which surged 37.00% to top the Nasdaq (^IXIC) on Thursday, gets an unusual 180 degree boost (Buy from Underperform) at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. The broker says Q1 "looks like a sea change" for the company, and its price objective also increases by $8, to $20. Shares are up 1.6% as a result in pre-market trading.

Preferred Bank (PFBC): Raymond James raises its recommendation to Outperform from Market Perform.

Telefónica (TEF): TEF is taken to Outperform from Perform by Bernstein.

Toll Brothers (TOL): TOL is upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

Turkcell (TKC): Shares are now Neutral from Sell at UBS.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): Shares, surging some 51.31% before the bell, are now Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs after encouraging VX-661 and Ivacaftor Phase 2 study data.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Ameriprise Turns Tommy Lee Jones Into Fat Cat and Stock Downgrades: Coach Handbag Contains No Cash.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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