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Stock Upgrades: Ryder on Yellow Brick Road to Riches

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

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Looks like the year of the snake has a twist in the tail. Equities, much like that serpent in Texas, were on fire for much of March, but this Chinese zodiac sign has historically been the single worst one for the markets. Warming to the theme, Germany says Cyprus is "playing with fire" and Ignite Restaurant Group (IRG) has just been upgraded.

The suddenly lower-than-a-snake's belly reputation of yoga was temporarily redeemed by Lululemon Athletica (LULU), which bucked its brutal session 24 hours earlier to advance 1.28%. (Although, based on its downgrade this morning, that may have been but a dead-cat bounce for the downward dog darling.) Scholastic (SCHL) slumped 13.90% but who needs academics anyway, especially if you hope to get into Harvard? Stick with sports, kids.

No top-tier economic data due today, but Darden Restaurants (DRI) and Tiffany (TIF) are both out with earnings that beat Street estimates this morning, the latter in especially impressive fashion.

ADTRAN (ADTN): Raymond James juices its recommendation to Market Perform from Underperform.

American Public Education (APEI): The military studies establishment is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

AstraZeneca (AZN): Natixis Bleichroeder raises the British pharmaceutical firm, whose stock responded well to a recent restructuring announcement, to Neutral from Reduce.

DSW Inc. (DSW): The Designer Shoe Wear stock is now Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

E.ON (PINK:EONGY): The European utility is now Neutral from Underperform at BNP Paribas.

European Utilities: Staying in the sector, GDF Suez (PINK:GDFZY) gets upgraded to Overweight from Underweight at HSBC Securities, where British gas firm National Grid (NGG) is now Overweight from Neutral.

Family Dollar (FDO): The discount retailer, downgraded by Citigroup this morning, is boosted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch hoists its fellow financial to Neutral from Underperform.

Ignite Restaurant Group (IRG): The owner of Joe's Crab Shacks is now Buy from Hold at KeyBanc.

Mattress Firm Holding Corp. (MFRM): Saying that quarterly sales comparisons are about to get easier, and highlighting the company's Mattress Giant stores, Stifel moves the stock to Buy from Hold.

Met-Pro Corporation (MPR): The machinery stock is moved to Buy from Hold by Brean Capital, which establishes a price objective of $13 on a company it says should maintain steady margins going forward.

Ryder System (NYSE:R): Raymond James takes the truck rental titan, famous for its yellow moving vans, to Strong Buy from Outperform.

Texas Capital Bancshares (TCBI): Keefe Bruyette raises its recommendation on the regional bank to Outperform from Market Perform.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Brown-Forman Is in Great Spirits and Stock Downgrades: For Vail Resorts, It's All Downhill From Here.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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