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Stock Upgrades: Facebook Finds Friends


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

Twenty-four hours after the Dow (^DJI) rose for the 20th straight Tuesday, a run bettered only by its streak of 24 winning Wednesdays from 1968, a song from that year proved eerily prophetic. As Blood, Sweat & Tears warbled that October, "What goes up, must come down." And so it was that blue chips, up 106 points on May 28, dropped 106 points on May 29.

An ebullient front page headline from a publication derided as "McPaper" since its founding in 1982 - the year history's biggest ever bull market began - was seen as ominous by contrarians. It was certainly the kiss of death for McDonald's (MCD), as the fast food firm not known for benevolence toward bulls promptly tumbled 2.16%.

Turning to other animals on Old MacDonald's farm, pork producer Smithfield Foods (SFD) jumped a NYSE-best 28.42% after being bought by China, whose rivers recently flowed with 16,000 pig carcasses. The country kindly lent its executed political prisoners to the Bodies show put on by Premier Exhibitions (PRXI), but it just nose-dived 9.48% to a new low. No, far better to stick with cemetery stock Stewart Enterprises (STEI), which put the fun in funeral by surging 33.16% to top the Nasdaq (^IXIC) after being bought for $1.1 billion. With Brown Shoe (BWS) simultaneously gaining 11.76% to a fresh best, it wasn't a bad day to be carried out feet first.

Today in economics, April pending home sales are out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In corporate earnings action, Big Lots (BIG), China Ming Yang Wind Power (MY), Costco (COST), Esterline Technologies (ESL), Fred's, Inc. (FRED), Guess (GES), Joy Global (JOY), Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF), Royal Bank of Canada (RY), and Sanderson Farms (SAFM) are all due to report results.

Apollo Global Management (APO): BMO Capital boosts the company to Outperform from Market Perform.

Canadian Pacific (CP): The railroad is raised to Hold from Sell at Canaccord.

China Mobile (CHL): Shares are moved to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Clearwire (CLWR): Raymond James juices CLWR to Market Perform from Underperform.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (CBRL): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the stock to Neutral from Underperform.

Diamond Offshore (DO): The equity is increased to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB): BMO Capital (Outperform from Market Perform) and Jefferies (Buy from Hold) both boost the social networking name, whose value is seen as increasingly compelling after a recent share price sell off. The stock is currently 3.09% as a result in today's pre-market trading.

Fusion-io (FIO): The maker of data storage devices is now Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Lockheed Martin (LMT): Goldman Sachs adds the defense and aerospace firm to its Conviction Buy List, saying that industry fundamentals are poised to improve after a slew of difficult years.

MEMC Electronic (WFR): The tech name is also placed on Goldman's list of Conviction Buys.

Republic Services (RSG): Wedbush takes the equity to Outperform from Neutral.

Ruckus Wireless (RKUS): Shares are now Buy from Hold with a $16 price objective at Needham, which notes its potential rewards in the Wi-Fi market.

Solar Stocks: Goldman is more bullish on both First Solar (FSLR) (Buy from Neutral) and SunPower (SPWR) (Neutral from Sell.)

Volcano Corp. (VOLC): Shares are moved to Outperform from Perform at JMP Securities.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Check Out Marriott's Five-Star Welcome and Stock Downgrades: AutoNation Hits a Speed Bump.)
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