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Stock Upgrades: Make a Mint (Julep) in Jim Beam Ahead of Kentucky Derby


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

Even on the day he was laid to rest, George Jones taught Dow Jones (^DJI) an important lesson. While the iconic singer was receiving a memorable send off at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, stocks took to heart what happens when you play a country record in reverse. ("You get your life back, your wife back, and your dog back," as a wit once said.) Thus did equities return to form by walking back Wednesday's wobble, and blue chips - down 130-odd points 24-hours earlier - rose 130-odd points yesterday.

Ahead of tomorrow's Run for the Roses Churchill Downs (CHDN), owner of the storied Kentucky Derby racetrack, advanced 3.64% to the highest level in its history. This as Regeneron (REGN), based in the headless horseman headquarters of Tarrytown, rode an analyst upgrade to take its two-day surge to 15.08%. A less bullish research rating change saw Hyatt Hotels (H), co-founded by Donald Pritzker, fall 0.60% on an otherwise ebullient day, this at the very moment his daughter was being appointed Secretary of Commerce.

And, in a sure sign of the impending Apocalypse, Lindsay Lohan joined Twitter to talk about financial matters, giving herself a typically narcissistic third-person shout-out and lamely appropriating hip-hop language in an attempt to prove her hepcat credentials. Not only is LiLo embarrassingly late to the medium, but she manifestly lacks the sort of eerie prescience on economic matters Warren Buffett was displaying on the micro-blogging service as long ago as 2011.

Today in economics, analysts expect April's Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing report to fall from the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

On the corporate front, the final full week of reporting season finishes with Air France-KLM (PINK:AFLYY), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A), CBOE Holdings (CBOE), Duke Energy (DUK), Host Hotels (HST), Leucadia National (LUK), Madison Square Garden (MSG), Moody's (MCO), Newell Rubbermaid (NWL), Orbitz (OWW), Regeneron (REGN), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), and YRC Worldwide (YRCW) all due to release results.

Allstate (ALL): ALL gets upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Auxilium Pharmaceuticals (AUXL): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal Weight from Underweight.

Beam, Inc. (NYSE:BEAM): A good bourbon is the essential ingredient of any mint julep, sales of which will skyrocket at tomorrow's Kentucky Derby, and the owner of Jim Beam today gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Citigroup. The spirits maker, whose other brands include Canadian Club, Courvoisier Cognac, and Maker's Mark, rose 2.83% to a fresh peak yesterday on impressive earnings.

Beazer Homes (BZH): Shares are upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan, to Perform from Underperform at JMP Securities, and to Neutral from Sell at Compass Point.

Bruker Corporation (BRKR): The stock is now Buy from Neutral at Mizuho, whose price objective is $18 on a stock it says can enjoy margin upside amid a fresh management team.

ComScore (SCOR): SCOR is boosted to Buy from Hold at Cantor Fitzgerald, which takes its target price up by $4 to $20. New offerings, such as Digital Analytix are showing strength.

Gartner (IT): Shares are now Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird on account of a reasonable valuation.

General Motors (GM): The auto giant gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Craig-Hallum. Its European operations are showing improvement.

Gildan Activewear (GIL): GIL is now Neutral from Sell at Citigroup.

Infineon (PINK:IFNNY): HSBC Securities hoists the stock to Neutral from Underweight.

Magellan Midstream (MMP): MMP is moved to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

KAR Auction Services (KAR): BB&T Capital raises its rating to Buy from Hold.

Rowan Companies (RDC): Shares are raised to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

SunPower (SPWR): The stock is increased Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird.

Tractor Supply (TSCO): TSCO gets taken to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Put Fresh Money to Work in Fossil and Stock Downgrades: PetSmart Is in the Doghouse.)
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