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Stock Upgrades: Telecommuting Ban a Home Run for Yahoo?


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

In a week dominated by both Helicopter Ben and Helicopter Benedict, S&P 500 (^GSPC) shares hovered around the flat-line before ultimately ending airborne by 0.17%. The pope emeritus rides off into the sunset with a monthly pension of €2,500 and Andrew Mason gets a $378.36 retirement package after exiting Groupon (GRPN). The beer-swilling ex-Internet CEO can at least console himself with Anheuser-Busch (BUD) having finished on Friday at the highest level in its illustrious history.

Marissa Mayer banned working from home at Yahoo (YHOO) in a week Home Depot (HD) surged 5.3% to top the Dow (^DJI) and KB Home (KBH) advanced 4.8%. Bonuses on Wall Street rose 9% but America's real financial epicenter remains far away from the concrete canyons of Gotham, with Omaha's own Berkshire-Hathaway (BRK.A) posting a 49% profit increase while North Dakota had the country's lowest unemployment rate for a fourth straight year.

And in the from-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire category, Ron Johnson left Apple (AAPL) - down 4.5% to its worst level since January 2012 - only to take over at JC Penney (JCP), which endured one of the worst weeks in its history after sliding more than 16%.

Today's corporate earnings announcements are due to include Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA), Ascena Retail Group (ASNA), Boyd Gaming (BYD), Casella Waste (CWST), HSBC Holdings (HBC), Transocean (RIG), and Veeco Instruments (VECO).

AMAG Pharmaceuticals (AMAG): JPMorgan raises its recommendation to Neutral from Underweight.

Aqua America (WTR): The stock is now Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

Charles Schwab (SCHW): Shares get upgraded to Outperform from Perform by Sanford Bernstein, which cites heightened trading activity and net interest margin expansion as among reasons for owning the discount broker. Its target price is $23.

Cloud Peak Energy (CLD): Goldman Sachs boosts the shares to Buy from Neutral.

Dean Foods (DF): The dairy producer is upgraded to Buy from Hold with a $21 target at KeyBanc.

Diamondrock Hospitality (DRH): A better 2014 bookings outlook in Boston is a reason behind RBC Capital's Sector Perform-from-Underperform upgrade of the stock, whose price objective also increases to $10 from $9.50.

France Telecom (FTE): Shares are moved up by an unusual 180 degrees, to Overweight from Underweight, at Morgan Stanley.

Lexmark (LXK): Barclays lifts the printer maker to Equal Weight from Underweight.

Merck (MRK): The drug stock, a key Dow (^DJI) component, is up before the opening bell on a Buy-from-Neutral lift at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, which highlights its relatively hefty yield. The price target is $47.

Radian Group (RDN): RDN is raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

Redwood Trust (RWT): JMP Securities moves the stock to Outperform from Market Perform.

Spreadtrum Communications (SPRD): HSBC Securities hoists the stock to Overweight from Neutral. Its objective also increases, by $3 to $23.

Telefónica (TEF): The Spanish telecom titan gets taken to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) ISI Group gives the Real Estate Investment Trust an upgrade to Neutral from Cautious.

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) The company, whose Marissa Mayer is implementing a contentious ban on working in your pajamas, is this morning increased to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Tiffany Still a Rough Diamond and Stock Downgrades: Bristol-Myers Isn't in the Best of Health.)
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