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Stock Upgrades: Splunk Looks Like a Slam Dunk

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

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War, what is it good for? To answer Edwin Starr's Woodstock-era anthem, apparently always quite a lot in equities. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is now up 64 points in the past two sessions, even as saber rattling with Syria continues. Indeed this is an especially inopportune time to say farewell to ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH), judging by that stock's upgrade-inspired advance this morning. Military might gave us the GPS, still going strong if yesterday's S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX)-leading gain in Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) is any indication. And the Cold War conjured up the Hotline, whose anniversary we just celebrated. (Telecom titan Verizon (NYSE:VZ) celebrated by surging 2.71% to best all blue chips.) The specter of World War II still haunts Mad Men a generation on but its beloved broadcaster AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) is anything but shell shocked after advancing 3.21%.

Today in economics, this month's Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index is out at 9:45 a.m. Eastern, followed by the University of Michigan's final figure for August consumer confidence at 9:55 a.m. On the earnings front, Big Lots (NYSE:BIG), Hermès International (OTCMKTS:HESAY), ReneSola (NYSE:SOL), Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (NASDAQ:SHOS), and Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) are all due to report results.

Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA): The energy outfit, surging about 6% this morning after selling an oil asset in Egypt for $3.1 billion, gets upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.

ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH): The British semiconductor stock, a key supplier of chips to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, gets an unusual 180 degree Buy-from-Sell hoist at Deutsche Bank. A steep summer slump provides compelling value, in the broker's opinion.

Copa Holdings (NYSE:CPA): Raymond James raises its recommendation on the Panamanian air carrier to Strong Buy from Outperform.

CRH PLC (NYSE:CRH): The Irish construction company is boosted to Outperform from Neutral by BNP Paribas.

Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB): JPMorgan moves the giant German financial firm to Overweight from Neutral, sending shares up more than 2% in today's European trading.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC): The semiconductor stock, a key Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component, is increased to Buy from Hold with a $28 price objective at Argus. Smartphones and tablets offer more promise than many believe, in the broker's assessment.

Sanchez Energy Corp (NYSE:SN): RBC Capital raises the stock to Outperform from Sector Perform.

Select Comfort Corp. (NASDAQ:SCSS): Citing steadily improving fundamentals, KeyBanc moves the adjustable mattresses maker to Buy from Hold.

Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK): The software stock, surging some 9.30% before the bell after its Q2 earnings beat the Street, is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital. Catalysts include strong secular trends in data and larger deal sizes. Its price objective, previously $48, is taken to $61.

Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI): Sanford Bernstein takes TI to Outperform from Market Perform.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Staples Still the 'Bain' of Investors Lives and New Stock Coverage: Ctrip.com Going Nowhere Ahead of Labor Day)

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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