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Stock Upgrades: Priceline Is Going Places

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

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With equities going to Pluto, how appropriate that Star Trek topped the box office. Especially as Priceline.com (PCLN) - upgraded this morning after surging some 6.3% last week - has had as its spokesman Captain Kirk. William Shatner, of course, used to split infinitives ("to boldly go…") as effortlessly as his company was once - hard as it may be to believe now - compelled to reverse split its stock to stay alive. The S&P 500 Index (^GSPC) advanced another 2.07% to a new record, with Google (GOOG) jumping $28.95 to finish above $900 for the first time. No wonder a couple of middle-age folks are willing to Intern there for free. Generation X will likely never be able to retire but ex-Google employee Marissa Mayer is making many rich further down the age scale. Fresh from handing a teenager $30 million, Yahoo (YHOO) just paid $1.1 billion for a firm owned by a 26-year-old. Bullion fell 5% and is now down for seven straight sessions, its worst run since March 2009. To paraphrase what Simon and Garfunkel once said of Joe DiMaggio, "Where have you gone, Goldenballs? A long-suffering commodity complex turns its lonely eyes to you."

No top-tier economic data due today, but earnings announcements are expected out of Campbell Soup (CPB), Qihoo 360 Technology (QIHU), Ryanair (OTCMKTS:RYAAY), TiVo Inc. (TIVO), and Urban Outfitters (URBN).

Abbott Labs (ABT): Goldman Sachs gives the medical device maker a Buy-from-Neutral lift.

Accenture (ACN): The consulting giant is now Buy from Neutral at Goldman.

IBERIABANK (IBKC): Stephens increases IBKC to Overweight from Equal Weight.

JC Penney (JCP): A temporary reprieve for the recently-troubled retailer, today taken to Buy from Hold at Maxim. Its target price, previously $16.50, is taken to $27 to reflect a recent change in strategy aimed at improving store traffic.

Netease.com (NTES): NTES is now Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Northrop Grumman (NOC): CRT Capital raises the defense company to Fair Value from Sell after its $4 billion share repurchase plan.

Pandora Media (P): The Internet radio outfit gets boosted to Equal Weight from Underweight by Barclays. It "…has made significant progress in improving its ability to monetize its growing mobile usage," analysts wrote in a note. Shares are higher as a result this morning.

Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN): The online travel firm, already up 28.74% in the past 12 months having finished at a fresh 52-week peak on Friday, is this morning hoisted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank. The broker calls it the "clear global secular winner" in its industry.

T-Mobile US (TMUS): Deutsche Bank takes the telecom stock to Buy from Hold amid an improvement in its operating momentum.

WNS Holdings (WNS): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: MusclePharm Can Bulk Up Your Portfolio and Stock Downgrades: Dunkin' Bull Run Done?)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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