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Stock Upgrades: There's Dollars in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

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

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That Florida fellow who survived a shark attack, snake bite, and lightning strike can consider himself lucky. For the week of the shark in the year of the snake saw equities slump amid fears that lightning is set to strike Wall Street twice. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) shed 1.07% as equities endured their worst week since a late June swoon. Thus the old "sell in May and go away" adage may be right after all, and wherever you go, take TripAdvisor (TRIP). It advanced 6.8% to finish at an all-time high on Friday. (The stock still deserves a pie in the eye for preposterously suggesting that New York pizza ranks a distant fourth, behind both San Diego and Sin City.) For those who prefer other forms of fast food, a $300,000 hamburger made its entrance but it was Peltz's pretzel cheeseburger that really brought home the bacon and helped Wendy's (WEN) surge some 7.91%. Elsewhere Sony (SNE) slumped after CEO Kazuo Hirai rebuffed Dan Loeb's letter with one of his own. The US billionaire had accused Sony's entertainment division as being a "red-headed stepchild," which promptly saw thousands of ginger-haired Scots take to the streets in protest. Loeb's beleaguered fellow hedge fund heavy Bill Ackman sent a similar five-page missive. (With all this old-school mail flying back and forth, is it any wonder the Postal Service is showing some slight improvement?) Alas, in his case it was a red letter, for JC Penney (JCP) nose-dived another 9.9%.

Today in economics, the Treasury releases its July budget at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. On the quarterly earnings front, Ceragon Networks (CRNT), Sysco Corporation (SYY), Icahn Enterprises (IEP), and WuXi PharmaTech (WX) are all expected to announce results.

Berry Petroleum (BRY): BRY is boosted to Buy from Hold with Wunderlich, which also takes its price target up by $4 to $50. Relative valuation is seen as compelling at current price points.

Cablevision (CVC): Guggenheim gives the company a Buy-from-Hold upgrade.

F5 Networks (FFIV): The stock is boosted to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays, sending it up smartly before the bell.

Health Care REIT (HCN): BMO Capital raises the real estate investment trust to Market Perform from Underperform.

ING Groep (ING): The financial stock is hoisted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

KAR Auction Services (KAR): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD): Janney juices its investment opinion on the sweet treat to Buy from Neutral.

LinkedIn (LNKD): Needham lifts the surging stock to Buy from Neutral with a $280 price objective amid high levels of member engagement and good growth opportunities in the mobile arena.

Lowe's Companies (LOW): The home improvement retailer is hoisted to Hold from Sell at Canaccord Genuity, which also takes its target price up by $20 to $48. An ongoing housing market rebound is seen boosting same-store-sales, which the broker believes will increase 2.7% for fiscal 2013.

NetApp (NTAP): Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation to Neutral from Underperform, taking its target up by $10 to $44 in the process. Share buybacks and improving channel chatter offer promise, the bank believes.

Omnicom (OMC): The advertising giant gets upgraded to Overweight from Equalweight at Evercore.

PartnerRe (PRE): Keefe Bruyette raises the property and casualty insurance outfit to Outperform from Perform.

Southwest Gas (SWX): Brean Capital boosts the company to Buy from Hold and assigns it an objective of $56. Catalysts include an improved outlook for earnings growth.

Sun Bancorp (SNBC): Shares are moved to Outperform from Market Perform by Keefe Bruyette.

Sunoco Logistics (SXL): SXL is lifted to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

T-Mobile US (TMUS): TMUS is taken to Perform from Underperform at Oppenheimer, which applauds its improved network and lower level of customer attrition.

Ventas (VTR): BMO Capital Markets moves the stock to Market Perform from Underperform.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Tiffany & Co. Is a Rhinestone Cowboy and Stock Downgrades: Royal Dutch Shell plc Is All at Sea)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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