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Stock Upgrades: PIIGS Got You Down? Invest Instead in Pork Producer Smithfield Foods

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Shares fell despite the best efforts of House Speaker John Boehner, whose office sent a fiscal cliff letter to President Obama in the afternoon. Remarkably, it arrived later the same day at its destination a few blocks away, no mean feat considering the Postal Service's annual red ink stands at $15.9 billion. If nothing else, the missive massively boosted postage meter king Pitney Bowes (PBI), which surged 4.02% in an otherwise down day.

An analyst upgraded in-favor Volkswagen (VLKAY) as the German car giant reported its best November since 1973. The very next month our 40th Vice President famously said upon being sworn in, "I am a Ford (F), not a Lincoln," but that may now be a distinction without a difference. Netflix (NFLX) ended 6.99% in the red amid increasing doubts about its original programming including Orange Is the New Black, billed as "the story of one woman's time in minimum-security prison." Far better to invest in the real McCoy after Corrections of America (CXW) jumped 3.16% to near a new high.

No top-tier economic data due today, but quarterly earnings announcements are expected out of AutoZone (AZO), Big Lots (BIG), Mattress Firm Holding (MFRM), Oxford Industries (OXM), Pandora Media (P), Powell Industries (POWL), Toll Brothers (TOL), and Vail Resorts (MTN).

Francesca's Holdings (FRAN): Jefferies juices its recommendation to Buy from Hold, sending shares up this morning, on its belief the company's momentum continued into the third quarter. The price objective is also increased, to $38 from $35.

Gold Fields (GFI): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

Health Net (HNT): HNT is hoisted to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Pandora Media (P): Shares are moved to Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs ahead of earnings.

Partner Communications (PTNR): The stock gets a big upgrade, to Buy from Underperform, at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Public Storage (PSA): Cantor Fitzgerald upgrades shares of PSA to Buy from Hold citing high occupancy levels and impressive pricing power.

Renren (RENN): Shares are upgraded to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank.

SBA Communications (SBAC): The name is now Top Pick from Outperform at RBC Capital, which takes its target up to $85 from $71.

Smithfield Foods (NYSE:SFD): The world's largest pork producer gets boosted to Buy from Hold at BB&T Capital.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Dollars in Donuts for Dunkin' and Stock Downgrades: Match.com Owner IAC/InterActive Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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