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Stock Upgrades: High Fives for F5 Networks

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

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On the day after Easter, Wall Street laid an egg. (This despite the best efforts of America's largest egg producer Cal-Maine Foods (CALM), which reported a 17% surge in third-quarter earnings. And if this recently remarkable Energizer (ENZ) market finally stopped going and going, Annie's Inc. (BNNY) Easter bunny was also exempt from blame after it bounced 1.52%.)

Moses, tablet in hand, parted the Red Sea but stopping the remorseless tide of red ink in shares of Apple (AAPL), where tablet estimates continue to tumble, will likely prove more problematic. Shares, down 17% in the first quarter, slumped another 3.11% on Monday and have been downgraded this morning.

Black and white and read all over was the story of the day at Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. (NWSA), which rode bullish research to rise to an all-time high. Mr. Murdoch can thus afford to crow at liberal arch rival New York Times (NYT), whose hatred of car company Tesla Motors (TSLA) was powerless to prevent it surging 15.94%.

An a broker boost of fertilizer firm Potash Corporation (NYSE:POT) sent it up sharply, even if you wouldn't want the stock to pass the smell test at Google (GOOG).

AstraZeneca (AZN): The British pharmaceutical firm is now Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

DaVita HealthCare Partners (DVA): Deutsche Bank hoists the stock to Buy from Hold.

eBay Inc. (EBAY): A second broker boost in two days for the surging online auctioneer, up another 2.75% yesterday. This morning it is taken to Buy from Hold at Topeka.

eHealth (EHTH): Shares get a Buy-from-Neutral lift at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, sending it surging 8.6% before the bell.

E.ON AG (EONGY): The European energy giant gets a Neutral-from-Underweight upgrade at HSBC Securities.

F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV): Robert W. Baird raises the application software outfit to Outperform from Neutral amid optimism regarding both its core markets and burgeoning Security segment.

Firstgroup Plc (PINK:FGROY): The British based provider of yellow school buses is surging some 7.01% in today's London trading after an unusual 180 degree (Buy from Underperform) upgrade at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

GNC Holdings (GNC): Deutsche Bank gives the vitamin retailer a Buy-from-Hold boost.

Hanesbrands (HBI): The underwear maker is increased to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Qualcomm (QCOM): Raymond James raises its recommendation to Strong Buy from Outperform.

Ultra Petroleum (UPL): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold by Brean Capital.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Don't Lose Your Shirt in Abercrombie & Fitch and Stock Downgrades: Apple Is an April Fool.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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