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Stock Upgrades: Publicis Groupe Gets Plaudits as Wall Street Goes Gaga for Madison Avenue


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

Nothing Wall Street managed from Monday to Friday was remotely on par with what Madison Avenue produced on Sunday. A blockbuster $35.1 billion advertising industry mega-merger announced yesterday in Paris ended a week in which stocks barely budged. (Those hardworking French - who knew? From deals to steals, it turns they are extremely industrious even on the Sabbath.) Staying across the Atlantic, Europe's recovery was front-page news in our nation's newspapers, so European stocks naturally fell for the first week in five. Axel Springer (ETR:SPR), the continent's biggest newspaper publisher, was a much better bet. It surged 16% in its best week for a decade. Clearly, it's better to be between the covers than between the sheets, for Tempur Sealy (TPX) tumbled 11.70% on Friday. An unloved Caterpillar (CAT) was the dog of the Dow (^DJI), dropping 4.2%. Fat cats - figurative and literal - were far more fortunate as PetMed Express (PETS) advanced 18.86%. And a central bank is advertising for a new head in keystone cops fashion, even as the exact future of its current incumbent remains clouded by uncertainty. But enough about Libya.

Today in economics, June pending home sales are out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, expect announcements out of Anadarko Petroleum (APC), Caesars Entertainment (CZR), Danone (DANOY), Express Scripts (ESRX), Franklin Resources (BEN), Hartford Financial (HIG) Herbalife (HLF), Hertz (HTZ), Plum Creek Timber (PCL), Ryanair (RYAAY), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), and Wynn Resorts (WYNN).

Air France-KLM (AFLYY): Shares are raised to Outperform from Perform at RBC Capital.

Bank of New York Mellon (BK): BK gets boosted to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim.

Cabot Oil & Gas (COG): The energy outfit, trading at historic highs, is increased at Oppenheimer to Outperform from Perform with a $100 price objective. Catalysts include strong production growth and optimism over its Marcellus properties.

Celestica (CLS): The tech name is taken to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

DR Horton (DHI): The homebuilder, which fell sharply last week, is today increased to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital.

Hormel Foods (HRL): Credit Suisse hoists the Spam maker to Outperform from Perform amid optimism over its expanding profit margins in pork and turkey. The Skippy peanut butter acquisition is another potential catalyst, in the bank's estimation.

Mettler-Toledo (MTD): MTD is moved to Buy from Hold at Cantor Fitzgerald, which also takes its target price up by $50 to $252 after the earnings announcement.

Publicis S.A. (ADR) (PUBGY): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the French advertising firm to Buy from Neutral in the wake of its blockbuster $35.1 billion mega-merger with Omnicom (OMC) announced on Sunday.

Range Resources (RRC): RRC gets raised to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer.

Wesco (WCC): Highlighting the company's impressive price inflation exposure, Wunderlich hoists it to Buy from Hold. The price objective, previously $79, is now $94.

WPP plc (WPPGY): The ad outfit is up about 2% in today's London trading on a Buy-from-Neutral boost at UBS. Industry consolidation is a positive, the bank believes.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: More Misery for Microsoft Corporation and New Stock Coverage: 3D Systems Corporation Is a License to Print Money.)
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