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Stock Upgrades: Fine Time to Buy Time Warner


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

We wait half a decade for a new high on the Dow (^DJI) and then, just like London buses, two arrive at once. That's history for you. Once it starts, "it's just one bloody thing after another." (Actually, in the movie the "thing" was prefaced by a slightly saltier adjective, but this is a respectable family publication after all. And anyway, who needs adjectives when verbs are much more useful?

Google (GOOG) hit an all-time best and Xerox (XRX) surged 3.53% to finish near a fresh 52-week peak.) The Dow (^DJI), now up three straight days, stands atop another new summit even as an unloved Apple Inc. (AAPL) shed 1.27%. The Cupertino company clearly hopes a Dre a day will keep the doctor at bay but - to quote his 1996 hit Been There, Done That - it's no wonder the market is so unimpressed with rumors of a summer release for the iPhone 5S.

Chocolate king Nestlé (PINK:NSRGY) scores an analyst upgrade this morning but cocoa has just cratered to an 11-month low in London. Maybe those Nutella-stealing students at Columbia will help to boost prices of the commodity. If that's the caliber of our Ivy League, little wonder For Dummies parent John Wiley & Sons (JW-A) beat Street earnings estimates this morning on a 6% rise in annual revenues.

Today in economics, analysts expect a contraction in January consumer credit at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Adidas (PINK:ADDYY), Ciena (CIEN), Finisar (FNSR), H&R Block (HRB), Kroger (KR), Nationstar Mortgage (NSM), Navistar (NAV), Pandora Media (P), Quiksilver (ZQK), Skullcandy (SKUL), Smithfield Foods (SFD), Telecom Italia (TI), and Workday (WDAY) are all due to report results.

Big Lots (BIG): Deutsche Bank boosts the stock, which surged some 6.14% on Wednesday, to Hold from Sell. (Note that shares also suffered a downgrade this morning.)

Clean Harbors (CLH): Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation on the waste management outfit to Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird and increases the price objective by $2 to $61. The equity is seen offering investors compelling at current levels.

Dril-Quip (DRQ): The oil and gas equipment firm is lifted an unusual 180 degrees, to Buy from Underperform, at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

JC Penney (JCP): The troubled stock gets upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Northcoast.

Mellanox Technologies (MLNX): JMP Securities takes the stock to Outperform from Market Perform.

MEMC Electronic (WFR): Impressed with its exposure to value-added solar projects, Goldman Sachs recommends buying the stock ahead of an analyst day on March 13 that is expected to be upbeat. Shares are now Buy from Neutral and the target price, previously $4.00, is increased to $6.50. The stock is surging better than 5% in today's pre-market trading as a result.

Nestlé (PINK:NSRGY): Stock in the confectionery company are up across the Atlantic this morning after an Outperform-from-Neutral upgrade at Credit Suisse.

New York Community Bancorp (NYCB): Keefe Bruyette raises the regional bank to Outperform from Market Perform.

Nordion (NDZ): NDZ is now Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital, whose price objective on the medical outfit is $8.

Palo Alto Networks (PANW): Shares are increased to Outperform from Market Perform at Northland Securities, which takes its target up by $10 to $70.

Petróleo Brasileiro (PBR): The Rio-based oil company better known as Petrobras gets an Outperform-from-Neutral hike at Credit Suisse. Yesterday the stock enjoyed its best single session since December 2008.

SAP AG (SAP): The German enterprise software giant gets upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities, sending it higher in today's overseas trading.

Time Warner (NYSE:TWX): Shares, already trading at multi-year highs, are hoisted to Buy from Hold at B. Riley Caris, which also takes its target up to $65 from $48. Last night's announcement that it will spin-off Time Inc. into a separately-traded public company is seen as catalytic for Time Warner's growth profile and margin profile prospects.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Make Sure You Are on Angie's List and Stock Downgrades: Dark Day in SolarCity.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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