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Stock Upgrades: Pandora Is Out of the Penalty Box

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

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Wall Street today turns 196 years young in fine fettle although, as I look out onto a snowy Manhattan sidewalk this morning, it is worth remembering that newfound wealth on the New York Stock Exchange means nothing for the record numbers shivering in New York homeless shelters.

Stocks rose to records for a third straight session, with everything old new again. Not long after speculation that Apple Inc. (AAPL) is about to get into the watch-making business comes news that Facebook (FB) now fancies itself as a newspaper. Whatever next? The return of radio? That'll be the day.

Elsewhere Goldman Sachs (GS) had a good day, rising 1.62% at about the same time it emerged that the firm's potty mouth arch nemesis is stepping down from the Senate.

Today in economics, analysts expect an uptick in January wholesale inventories at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Ann Inc. (ANN), Buckle (BKE), Foot Locker (FL), and Genesco (GCO) are all due to report results.

Accuride (ACW): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at BB&T Capital.

Ashtead (PINK:ASHTF): The English investment holding company is now Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

Bank of America (BAC): Yesterday's top Dow (^DJI) stock is boosted to Buy from Hold at Edward Jones.

Continental Resources (CLR): JPMorgan raises the independent oil and gas outfit to Overweight from Neutral.

Con Way (CNW): Deutsche Bank boosts the equity to Buy from Hold.

Dean Foods (DF): Not the first upgrade of America's largest dairy producer this week. Today it is taken to Buy from Hold with a $21 price target at Stifel Nicolaus. A discounted valuation and transformed business model are both cited.

Delhaize Group (DEG): DEG gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Hospira (HSP): UBS raises its rating to Neutral from Sell as the risk:reward ratio is now better balanced. The target is also taken up, by $2 to $30.

Lexington Realty Trust (LXP): The Real Estate Investment Trust is raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Evercore.

Navistar (NAV): JPMorgan moves the truck titan, a big gainer yesterday on news of a new CEO, to Overweight from Neutral. Shares are up further ahead of the open as a result.

Heartland Payment Systems (HPY): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey.

Pandora Media (NYSE:P): The Internet radio service stock, surging some 20.72% before the bell, is boosted to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

Phoenix New Media Limited (FENG): Deutsche Bank hoists the Beijing-based Internet information outfit to Buy from Hold.

Siemens (SI): The stock is up in overseas trading this morning after Citigroup, acknowledging its impressive restructuring work, added the German conglomerate to its Focus List of favored equities.

Smithfield Foods (SFD): The pork producer is upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Stephens.

Southwest Airlines (LUV): UBS lifts the low-cost carrier to Buy from Neutral.

Tenet Healthcare (THC): Shares are increased to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital.

Volcano (VOLC): Shares are now Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Yadkin Valley Financial (YAVY): Raymond James juices its recommendation to Outperform from Market Perform.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Put Your Daylight Savings Into Time-Shifting TiVo and Stock Downgrades: Skullcandy Tears Its Hair Out.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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