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Stock Upgrades: MGIC Investment Looks Like Magic


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

A popular e-card currently doing the rounds puts poor Anne Hathaway, who has suddenly become America's favorite frenemy, on a par with a bad case of the Mondays. Yet yesterday - due in no small measure to the Oscar-winning actress - the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) scored its first Monday gain of 2013. Her luminescent portrayal of tragic heroine Fantine in Les Misérables sent Connecticut candle maker Blyth, Inc. (BTH) surging 7.14%. Deal with it, Hath haters!

And those who thought an iffy analyst initiation of Tiffany (TIF) would send that stock sinking obviously had it backwards - just the way she wears the bling king's jewelry. (Also doing well, jumping 2.55% on a Barron's boost, was yogurt and bottled water behemoth Danone (PINK: DANOY), whose Evian really is Naïve spelled backwards.)

BlackBerry (BBRY), whose prior name of Research In Motion cam about after its founder learned how football players used ballet lessons to improve their speed, fell 3.39%. This as Marissa Mayer, the ballet-loving CEO of Yahoo (YHOO), saw her stock surge 3.46% on an upgrade. Ah, ballet. Just the sort of beautiful dance discipline designed to take one's mind off the cut-throat world of Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

Today's main economic data is the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index for February at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Deutsche Post (PINK:DPSGY), Smith & Wesson (SWHC), Standard Chartered (PINK:SCBFF), and VeriFone Systems (PAY) are all expected to release results.

Apollo Group (APOL): Deutsche Bank boosts the University of Phoenix owner, a for-profit educator whose shares have tumbled 61.30% in the past 12 months, to Hold from Sell. Downside is seen as limited at current levels, and its intact price objective is $17.

Deutsche Bank (DB): The German financial giant gets upgraded to Outperform from Neutral by France's BNP Paribas.

EV Energy (EVEP): The oil and gas outfit gets upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

MGIC Investment (MTG): The insurance stock, surging some 7.89% before the opening bell, gets an unusual 180 degree (Overweight from Underweight) upgrade at Barclays.

MicroStrategy (MSTR): FBR Capital moves the stock to Outperform from Market Perform, increasing its price objective to $140 from $105 in the process. The broker points to good growth prospects, partially due to new cloud-based products.

Radian Group (RDN): RDN is raised to Overweight from Underweight at Barclays.

Seadrill (SDRL): Shares are hoisted to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

Stratasys (SSYS): Needham boosts the stock, which surged 7.10% yesterday and is up another 1.21% in this morning's pre-market trading, to Buy from Hold after solid earnings and anticipated increased operating leverage. Its price objective is $80.

Yahoo (YHOO): Marissa Mayer's extended Wall Street honeymoon shows no signs of ending as the Internet outfit, today taken to Buy from Hold at Cantor Fitzgerald, gets its second upgrade of the week. The target, previously $21, is now $26 amid a material re-valuation of its Asian assets and a $1.5 billion share buyback.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Diana Shipping Stuck in Dry Dock and Stock Downgrades: Cliffs Natural Resources Still Falling Off a Cliff.)
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