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Stock Upgrades: The Beat Goes On at Apple


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

Yesterday, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock touched a multiyear high, and this morning the resurgent tech titan scores some price objective increases, even as the analysts in question keep their overall ratings intact. Yesterday the company bought Dr. Dre's Beats Electronics for $3 billion in cash and stock, in what was Apple's largest-ever acquisition. Some on Wall Street are scratching their headphones about that deal, but optimism about an upcoming iPhone upgrade cycle has sent shares higher in seven of the past eight trading sessions.
"You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"
-- Dead or Alive, 1985
Frankly, it's tough to tell if the singer of that single is, well, dead or alive -- his horrific overuse of Botox makes informed opinion impossible. But S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) shares undeniably fell from their recent record highs due to Allergan (NYSE:AGN), with the Botox owner's 5.39% fall making it far and away the poorest performer on the benchmark bourse. Orthopedic outfit Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN), which makes new knees, advanced 3.37% to an historic high after Dubya went under the knife, but Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) proved that a bird in the hand is worth way more than two in the Bush, advancing 10.69% on an analyst upgrade. Meanwhile, Angela Merkel was named the most powerful woman on the planet (damn it, Janet). After the Iron Chancellor's phone lines were mercilessly tapped by Uncle Sam, how Merkel must wish she instead conducted all official state business on Snapchat. Come to think of it, Snapchat's CEO likely now regrets not turning to Snapchat, too.
In today's economic data, scheduled to be released at 10:00 a.m. EDT, April pending home sales are expected to contract from the prior month's pace. In earnings action, expect announcements out of Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF), Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Express Inc. (NYSE:EXPR), Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF), and Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK).
Now let's analyze this morning's upgrades, a group encompassing both a biotech and discount retailer as well as our aforementioned Apple Inc.

AngloGold (NYSE:AU): HSBC Securities hoists the commodity company to Overweight from Neutral.
Apple Inc.: Today's headline equity has its price objective increased by both Piper Jaffray ($732 from $640) and UBS ($700 from $625), although in each case the overall investment opinion is unchanged.
Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB): JPMorgan moves the stock to Overweight from Neutral. Its target price is also taken up, to $375 from $300.
Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee.
DR Horton (NYSE:DHI): RBC Capital raises its rating on the homebuilder to Outperform from Perform amid improved operating leverage.
Harmony Gold (NYSE:HMY): The commodity company gets increased to Neutral from Underweight at HSBC Securities.
MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI): JPMorgan increases the Argentine outfit, often called "Latin America's eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY)," to Overweight from Neutral. Its target is now $114, up $10.
Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW): Shares are raised to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James. Its objective also increases, to $90 from $84.
Thomas Cook (OTCMKTS:TCKGY): The British travel firm is now Neutral from Reduce at Nomura.
Twitter: A second upgrade in as many days for the stock, which is showing additional strength this morning on the back of a Buy-from-Hold hoist at Cantor Fitzgerald. "We think [Twitter] should show substantial revenue growth/margin expansion and generate meaningful returns to shareholders," its analysts wrote in a note.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Sabre Continues Rattling Cages

Stock Downgrades: More Misery for Manchester United
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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