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Stock Upgrades: Herbalife Ltd. Still Turning Bill Ackman's Hair 50 Shades of Gray

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

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Paying appropriate homage to the late, lamented Elmore-Leonard, the market decided to Get Shorty, even as such sellers have recently been battered. The Dow (^DJI) ended at a seven-week low, with a late swoon turning it red for a fifth straight session. Among standout stocks to the upside, TJX Companies (TJX) surged 6.88% to a fresh best although, based on the tragically large numbers of homeless sleeping by its bridge location in Manhattan, the overall economy is still anemic.

For those fortunate enough to slumber on fancy memory foams Tempur Sealy (TPX) rose 3.60% as increasingly arthritic baby boomers answered the "Sex or Sleep?" question by opting firmly for the latter. (Quite where yesterday's lucrative performance from the mattress maker leaves the current sex/money correlation is unclear.) A chronic lack of sleep is being blamed for the tragic death of an intern at Bank of America (BAC). Elsewhere Sheryl Sandberg may soon be able to pay her interns after Facebook (FB) rode bullish research to advance another 1.59%.

Today in economics, analysts expect an improvement in July existing home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. At 2:00 p.m. the Federal Open Market Committee releases minutes to its July 30-31 policy meeting. On the earnings front, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), China Telecom (CHA), Heineken (HKHHY), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), J.M. Smucker (SJM), L Brands (LTD), Lowe's (LOW), Madison Square Garden (MSG), PetSmart (PETM), Staples (SPLS), Target (TGT), and Toll Brothers (TOL) are all due to release results.

Garmin (GRMN): Citing the satellite navigation company's roll out of new action camera products, Goldman Sachs upgrades shares to Neutral from Sell.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): Cowen upgrades the English pharmaceutical giant to Outperform from Market Perform.

Herbalife Ltd. (HLF): More good news for the firm, accused of being a pyramid scheme by Bill Ackman. Who knows, the hedge fund titan might eventually be proved right, in which case many of us will have to eat copious amounts of humble pie. Today though the stock, having already almost doubled in 2013, is increased to Buy from Hold with an $80 price objective at Argus, which expects an additional buyback later this year. Shares are, accordingly up another 2%-plus this morning.

Linde Group (LNEGY): Citigroup gives the German engineering giant a Buy-from-Neutral lift.

NASDAQ (NDAQ): The exchange operator is raised to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James.

National Retail Properties (NNN): Shares are now Outperform from Market Perform with a $37 price objective at FBR Capital, which calls the company a good way to play improving credit quality.

Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch moves the biotech to Buy from Neutral.

Royal Caribbean (RCL): The cruise company is raised to Overweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley, which notes both a European rebound and improving US travel trends.

Standard Life (SLFPY): The Edinburgh-based investment outfit is bucking a broadly lower London tape today, up about 2% after being boosted to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse. "Costs are being well contained and offer support for net margins," analysts wrote in a note.

Trina Solar (TSL): TSL gets taken to Outperform from Market Perform at Cowen.

Veolia Environnement (VE): Morgan Stanley moves the waste management stock to Overweight from Equal-Weight. Shares are, accordingly, surging some 5% this morning.

Xueda Education (XUE): Shares get upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs.

Zurich Insurance Group (ZURVY): The stock is now Equal-Weight from Underweight at Barclays.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Chesapeake Energy Corporation Told to Frack Off and New Stock Coverage: Trulia Inc Is on Easy Street.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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