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Stock Upgrades: McGraw-Hill's Issues More Molehill Than Mountain?


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

Wall Street built upon last week's gains, helped by a Stone even as it lost a BRIC. Shares bounced back from the dilemma arising out of Monday's mauling by opting to, well, dial Emma. The Hollywood ingénue and Revlon (REV) mouthpiece quickly answered the call, sending her stock up 18.13% and engendering the market's ebullient mood.

Dell Inc. (DELL), famous for its crooked "e," was taken private in a $24.4 billion deal on a day that brought back echoes of Enron, which put the crook in crooked "e's." You see, the energy sham was rated investment grade by current headline-hoggers McGraw-Hill (MHP) and Moody's (MCO) until a scant 72 hours before it went belly up.

It's another eerily quiet day in economic data but corporate earnings announcements are expected to include Allstate (ALL), ArcelorMittal (MT), CVS Caremark (CVS), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI), Madison Square Garden (MSG), News Corporation (NWSA), Time Warner (TWX), Visa (V), and Volvo (PINK:VOLVY).

Allergan (AGN): The Botox maker gets upgraded to Outperform from Perform at JMP Securities.

Carlyle Group (CG): Citigroup gives the money manager a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Church & Dwight (CHD): CHD is upgraded to Outperform from Underperform at Crédit Agricole, which is impressed with its innovation, accelerating growth, and better than expected earnings guidance.

Dell Inc. (DELL): Shares in the personal computer company are now Neutral from Sell at Citi on news it will be taken private in a $24.4 billion leveraged buy out.

Electronic Arts (EA): Saying that the bad news is behind the company, and an upcoming game console cycle will now come to the fore, Sterne Agee increases EA to Buy from Neutral with a $22 target price.

Express (EXPR): JP Morgan moves the clothing company to Overweight from Neutral.

Gannett (GCI): The USA Today owner gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Hill-Rom Holdings (HRC): HRC gets hoisted to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman Sachs, which expects an upturn in the hospital bed cycle. The target is now $41, up from $40.

Marsh & McLennan (MMC): Goldman gives the firm an upgrade to Buy from Neutral.

Morgan Stanley (MS): Suntrust Robinson Humphrey moves its fellow financial firm to Neutral from Reduce on account of optimism over its cost cutting measures.

Ratings Agencies: Saying that the current crisis has created a compelling valuation, and legal headlines are overblown, Raymond James raises beleaguered McGraw-Hill (NYSE:MHP) and Moody's (NYSE:MCO) to Strong Buy from Outperform. The respective price objectives, at $62 and $55, are intact. The stocks are rebounding from a steep two-session slide in today's pre market trading.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Foot Locker Kicks Into High Gear and Stock Downgrades: Stern Warning for Sirius XM Radio.)
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