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Stock Upgrades: It's Still Not Too Latte to Invest in Starbucks Corporation

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

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We'll call the tug-of-war between Esther George and George Soros a draw, then. Equities ended mixed after the Fed - with Ms. George the lonely dissenting note of caution - left its monetary spigot intact, even as Mr. Soros helped Herbalife (HLF) surge some 9.09%. The FOMC now sees heightened risk of disinflation, a "problem" that Zimbabwe could only dream of. Its voters went to the polls yesterday, with the nation's inflation rate having hit 6.5 sextillion (that would be 21 zeros) during the previous parliament. As the old gray man prepares to hand off to the old gray lady, another "Old Gray Lady" - namely The New York Times (NYT) - jumped 2.53%. (Alas, its women writers fared less well yesterday.) Elsewhere, as a new study showed Americans prefer being in debt to being fat, weight loss stock NutriSystem (NTRI) plumped up to a fresh 52-week peak.

Today in economic data, consensus calls for an uptick in July's Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, results are released out of American International Group (AIG), BMW Group (BAMXF), ConocoPhillips (COP), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Kellogg (K), Kraft Foods (KRFT), LinkedIn (LNKD), Lloyds Banking Group (LYG), New York Times (NYT), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Société Générale (SCGLY).

Air Products & Chemicals (APD): Heartened by Bill Ackman's 9.8% stake in APD, Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation to Outperform from Neutral.

American Tower (AMT): Raymond James raises the Real Estate Investment Trust to Strong Buy from Outperform.

Baker Hughes (BHI): Oil services outfit BHI gets boosted to Hold from Sell at Argus.

Comcast (CMCSA): The cable company, a stellar performer yesterday, is now Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird.

Ctrip.com International (CTRP): Shares are increased to Buy from Hold at Stifel.

Ryland Group (RYL): Raymond James hoists the home builder to Market Perform from Underperform.

Starbucks Corporation (SBUX): Shares of the coffee company, up 57.44% in the past year having hit an historic high on Friday, are moved to Buy from Hold at Williams Capital this morning.

UBS AG (UBS): The Swiss bank gets a Market Perform-from-Underperform boost by Keefe Bruyette.

Yelp Inc. (YELP): Shares, surging almost 9% as I write after a 69% jump in Q2 sales beat Street estimates, are now Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Bayer AG Has a Massive Headache and New Stock Coverage: The Gap Inc. Is Dressed for Success.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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