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Stock Upgrades: Otis Owner United Technologies Finds Love in an Elevator


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

The Dow (^DJI) struggled to eek out a 0.81% weekly increase, amid anemic trading volume and its first Friday fall all year. Somewhere in an alternate universe that's the headline - maybe at the Harvard Crimson - but "Extra! Extra! Read All About It - Blue Chips Rise 10 Straight Days In Record Run" makes for far better copy.

The market's devilish 666 low is now but a bad nightmare, and equities embraced a new Pontiff with gusto. "Go fourth and multiply" pretty much said it all, with stocks gaining for a fourth straight week while the Price/Earnings multiple remains relatively restrained compared with prior bubbles.

"Turn water into wine" was also on the money for the world's largest vintner Constellation Brands (STZ), which finished Friday at an all-time high and is again up nicely in today's pre-market trading. And it seems that "the meek shall inherit the Earth," with Bank of America (BAC) - having slid 78.0% since October of 2007 - besting all blue chip on Friday to end the week up an impressive 4.1%.

Elsewhere England's Rentokil (PINK:RTOKY), the biggest pest control company on the planet, added on 8.4%. Too late, alas, for the poor passengers in Greyhound's roach coach.

The deteriorating situation in Cyprus is attracting the market's attention today, although there is no top-tier US economic data due and it's also quite quiet on the corporate earnings front. TravelCenters of America (TA), which released its results earlier this morning, is the pick of quarterly announcements.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD): The semiconductor stock is increased to Outperform from Underperform at Macquarie.

Arch Coal (ACI): Nomura raises the commodity company to Neutral from Reduce.

Best Buy (BBY): Yet another upgrade for the resurgent electronics retailer, today taken to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Craft Brew Alliance (BREW): The equity is boosted to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Glu Mobile (GLUU): Shares, which surged 42% last week, are now Outperform from Perform at Northland Capital, which takes its price target to $4.50 from $2.50. Favorable factors abound, including a successful slate of games and expectations for Glu Publishing. The stock is adding on another 4% plus ahead of the open as a result.

Greenbrier (GBX): GBX gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel, which establishes a price target of $26 on an outfit it says is in the process of impressively divesting itself of non-core assets.

Hanover Insurance Group (THG): Shares get upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ): Last year's poorest performing Dow (^DJI) stock has thus far been a stellar performer in 2013, and today it is taken to Overweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley. Shares are currently higher ahead of the open as a result.

Hospital Stocks: Community Health (CYH) and Health Management (HMA) are each hoisted to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG): The Da Vinci robot pioneer, a volatile stock of late, is hoisted to Buy from Hold at Canaccord this morning.

Methanex (MEOH): Jefferies moves the specialty chemicals company to Buy from Hold.

National Grid (NGG): The gas utility gets moved to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

Office Supply Retailers: Office Depot (ODP) and OfficeMax (OMX), presently in the process of merging, are each upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc. An improving risk/reward ratio is the key catalyst.

ON Semiconductor (ONNN): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman.

Peabody Energy (BTU): BTU is boosted to Neutral from Reduce by Nomura.

Siemens (SI): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the giant German conglomerate to Buy from Neutral.

Synaptics (SYNA): Shares are now Buy from Hold at Needham, which cites the company's likely design win for Samsung's (SSNLF) new Galaxy S4. The target price is $52.

United Technologies (NYSE:UTX): The Dow member, whose myriad companies include Otis Elevator, gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Citigroup.

ValueClick (VCLK): Jefferies juices its recommendation on the Internet information provider to Buy from Hold.

Verizon Communications (VZ): Citi raises its recommendation on the key Dow component to Buy from Neutral.

Vodafone (VOD): The United Kingdom based telecom titan is now Buy from Neutral at Citigroup, which also increases its price objective to 215 British pence from 180. Catalysts include strength in the greenback and higher hopes of Verizon (VZ) buying Vodafone's minority stake in Verizon Wireless.

Watsco (WSO): SunTrust Robinson Humphrey takes the electronics wholesaler to Buy from Neutral.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: No Outpouring of Affection for Boise Cascade and Stock Downgrades: Titanic Troubles Ahead at Carnival Corporation.)
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