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Stock Upgrades: Intuitive Surgical Rides the Rise of the Robots

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

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The stock market had become a war of robots.
--Michael Lewis, Flash Boys
 
Well, yes and no. Granted, Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) rode its new robotic offerings to surge an S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX)-best 12.7%. Yet Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), home of "the human network," jumped 3.94% to top the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) by a mile. (Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), canny as ever, is shrewdly addressing the interspecies argument out of both sides of its mouth.) Ironically, a book about how high-speed algorithms have rendered old-fashioned floor traders redundant had the odd effect of getting people more excited than they have been for many moons on the NYSE. The SEC has even stepped into the debate with its multiple probes, which makes a nice change from the agency's porn-perusing predilections during the depths of the financial crisis. Nasdaq OMX (NASDAQ:NDAQ), which nosedived 3.14%, was the single worst S&P 500 issue even as Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) advanced for a third straight day. Much more of this, and the index will be back to partying like it's 1999, to quote the artist formerly known as Prince. The stock formerly known as Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN), a key component of the market's millennial madness, can certainly afford to name its own price after advancing another 4.99%.
 
Today in economics, factory orders for February are expected to tick up from the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. EDT. On the earnings front, Monsanto (NYSE:MON) released results earlier this morning.

Actuant (NYSE:ATU): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at SunTrust.
 
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU): Natixis Bleichroeder boosts the French telecom firm to Buy from Neutral.
 
Ameriprise Financial (NYSE:AMP): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal-Weight.
 
Apollo Education Group (NASDAQ:APOL): Saying that student enrollment figures augur well, Wells Fargo increases APOL to Outperform from Market Perform. Still, shares are slumping 3.33% as we speak after the company received a subpoena from the Education Department regarding its recruitment records.
 
Arthur J. Gallagher (NYSE:AJG): The insurance outfit gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Compass Point.
 
Carter's, Inc. (NYSE:CRI): Piper Jaffray juices its rating to Overweight from Neutral.
 
Cognizant Technology (NASDAQ:CTSH): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at UBS.
 
Comerica (NYSE:CMA): The stock is moved to Market Perform from Underperform with Wells.
 
Dover (NYSE:DOV): Credit Suisse upgrades the company to Outperform from Neutral.
 
DSW, Inc. (NYSE:DSW): More good news for the footwear firm formerly known as Designer Shoe Warehouse, whose shares shot up 3.18% yesterday. Today it gets taken to Hold from Sell by Brean Capital.
 
Intuitive Surgical: The surging stock is up another 2.41% this morning after being boosted to Outperform from Underperform by JMP Securities.
 
Laredo Petroleum (NYSE:LPI): SunTrust takes the oil name to Buy from Outperform.
 
Nestle (OTCMKTS:NSRGY): The confectionery king is now Outperform from Perform at Sanford Bernstein.
 
OAO Gazprom (OTCMKTS:OGZPY): Deutsche Bank hoists the Russian energy giant to Buy from Hold.
 
Pantry (NASDAQ:PTRY): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Hold at The Benchmark Company.
 
Penske Automotive (NYSE:PAG): The equity is now Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee.
 
Veeva Systems (NYSE:VEEV): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal-Weight.
 
Worthington Industries (NYSE:WOR): WOR gets a Buy-from-Hold boost by KeyBanc Capital.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: 57 Cents Could Cost General Motors Billions

Stock Downgrades: The Medicines Company Stuck in Sickbed
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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