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Stock Upgrades: Steven Madden, Ltd. Gets Out of Jail


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

Stocks surged to fresh records even as a paltry 162,000 jobs were added in July. (That may be a stellar number for a small town folk festival, but anyone who suggests it is acceptable employment growth for a country of over 300 million people should swiftly be met with A Mighty Wind, as it were.) Potash (POT) plunged 22% in an awful fertilizer sector and Bill Ackman - accused of being inordinately fond of a key ingredient in such soil nutrients - endured another awful week. His heavily shorted Herbalife (HLF) gained 9.6% to take its post-December bounce to 165%, while Pershing Square's substantial stake in JC Penney Company (JCP) lost another 13.4%. For farmers who prefer the rear end of a horse, Coach (COH) nose-dived 9.9% but there was better news for the Clydesdales of Anheuser-Busch (BUD) as that stock advanced 11% in its best week in over four years. And the stallions of Lloyds Banking Group (LYG) are besting all European financials this morning, up about 4.4% as I write.

Today in economics, analysts expect an uptick in July's Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, HSBC Holdings (HBC), Macerich Company (MAC), Rockwood Holding (ROC), Tyson Foods (TSN), Veolia Environnement (VE), and Vornado Realty (VNO) are all due to release results.

AMN Healthcare Services (AHS): AHS is taken to Neutral from Sell at UBS.

Broadcom (BRCM): Shares are boosted to Buy from Hold at Drexel Hamilton.

Coca-Cola FEMSA (KOF): Goldman Sachs gives the company an upgrade to Buy from Neutral.

Cowen Group (COWN): Keefe Bruyette boosts its fellow financial firm to Outperform from Market Perform.

Dow Chemical (DOW): Argus hoists the equity to Buy from Hold. Its target is $47.

Duke Energy (DUK): The electric utility gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Mediaset (MDIUY): The media empire overseen by embattled ex-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is increased to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank, which sees compelling value at current levels. Shares are up about 3% in today's overseas trading as a result.

MicroStrategy (MSTR): Roth Capital moves MSTR to Buy from Neutral.

Mylan Labs (MYL): Shares are lifted to Buy from Hold by Buckingham Research.

NGL Energy Partners (NGL): NGL is now Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird amid optimism over its Oilfield Water Lines purchase. The target price, previously $30, increases to $33.

Riverbed Technology (RVBD): The stock, fresh from last week's slump, is today taken to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer. Its target is $20.

Sealed Air (SEE): The Bubble Wrap owner is now Neutral from Underperform at Macquarie.

Steven Madden, Ltd. (SHOO): The footwear firm, whose founder famously spent some time in the slammer, gets an unusual 180 degree (Buy from Sell) upgrade at Goldman Sachs. The investment bank lauds SHOO's shareholder-friendly cash deployment strategy, and shares are currently advancing about 1.1% as a result.

Thomas Cook Group (TCKGY): Citi takes the iconic English travel outfit to Buy from Neutral, sending it up more than 3% in London this morning.

TriCo Bancshares (TCBK): Shares are increased to Outperform from Perform at Raymond James.

Whole Foods (WFM): Williams Capital Group gives the gourmet grocer a Buy-from-Hold hoist, increasing its price objective by $11 to $64.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Canadian Solar Inc. Is a Light in the North and Stock Downgrades: Brinker International, Inc. Gets a Chili Reception.)
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