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Stock Upgrades: Rolls Royce Living Large


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

The Dow (^DJI) suffered its worst day in over three weeks after the defense spending component of GDP tumbled by 22%, its steepest slide since the conflict in Vietnam. While America disarms at an alarming rate, erstwhile Parisian pacifists are suddenly going to the ends of the Earth (or at least Timbuktu) to wage war. Thus the description of the country from a former Simpsons writer as "Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys" clearly no longer applies.

Bart and co. were, however, right on the money in poking fun at horrifically misaligned English teeth in the Big Book of British Smiles, so it's no surprise to see Invisalign braces maker Align Technology (ALGN) surging 9.36% before the bell.

Research In Motion (RIMM) tumbled 12.01% amid disappointment its latest BlackBerry won't be unveiled until March but seven Dreamliner delays spanning a decade didn't hurt Boeing (BA), which gained 1.28% to best all blue chips. The plane is so-called after a naming contest was held on America Online (AOL) 10 years ago. That was an altogether more innocent dial-up age when teens didn't poison their parents milkshakes to beat Web curfews. (For what it's worth, organic milk maker WhiteWave Foods (WWAV) scored a Buy rating yesterday.)

It's another frenzied session for corporate earnings announcements, with Aetna (AET), Banco Santander (SAN), Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Deutsche Bank (DB), Eastman Chemical (EMN), LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton (PINK:LVMUY), MasterCard (MA), Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ), PulteGroup (PHM), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A), United Parcel Service (UPS), Viacom (VIAB), and Whirlpool (WHR) all due to report results.

Align Technology (ALGN): The teeth-straightening service, up 9.36% in pre-market activity, gets hoisted to Overweight from Equal Weight at Stephens. Catalysts include new product offerings and a potentially favorable ITC (International Trade Commission) in the June quarter. The target price is also taken up, to $36 from $30.

Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the insurance outfit to Buy from Neutral.

AudioCodes (AUDC): AUDC is increased to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer.

CIT Group (CIT): CIT gets cut to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Citrix Systems (CTXS): The stock is moved to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill.

Core Labs (CLB): Shares are lifted to Outperform from Perform at FBR Capital, whose new price objective is $150.

Facebook (FB): The social network, slumping before the bell and thrice downgraded this morning, gets a Buy-from-Hold hoist at brokerage boutique Pivotal Research.

Fusion-io (FIO): The stock gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Lazard but is sliding 17% before the bell.

Intersil (ISIL): ISIL is now Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

JDS Uniphase (JDSU): The tech name, surging 14% before the bell, is now Buy from Hold with an $18 objective at Needham, which is heartened with its stronger than expected earnings.

MB Financial (MBFI): Keefe Bruyette moves MBFI to Outperform from Market Perform.

Rolls Royce (PINK:RYCEY): BNP Paribas gives the last name in luxury an Outperform-from-Neutral upgrade, sending it up in today's London trading.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Forest Labs Looks Like a Money Tree and Stock Downgrades: Facebook Defriended All Over Wall Street.)
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