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Stock Upgrades: There's No Place Like HomeAway

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

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"Sell in May and go away" had a twist in the tail this year, as befits the year of the snake. Absent a major Friday fall off, shares will round out what is a traditionally soft month with strong gains.

Twenty four hours after pork producer Smithfield Foods (SFD) jumped an NYSE-best 28.42% after being bought, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B) - whose Geico unit has an awfully odd relationship with pigs - hit a fresh best after its MidAmerican Energy unit made a $5.6 billion acquisition of its own.

The Land of the Rising Sun was once more home to falling stocks, with Japan's Nikkei (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) nose-diving another 5.2%. Yet on this side of the Atlantic Twilight suited Lions Gate (LGF) just fine as the sun spectacularly set in New York. (An upgraded First Solar (FSLR) felt the halo effect, adding 6.55% to top the entire S&P 500 (^GSPC)).

This morning in economics, analysts expect improvements in the May Chicago Purchasing Managers' index at 9:45 a.m. Eastern and this month's University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey at 9:55 a.m. On the corporate front, Genesco (GCO) and Graham Corporation (GHM) are the pick of a quiet day for earnings announcements.

Calpine Corporation (CPN): Deutsche Bank increases the electric utility to Buy from Hold.

Canadian National Railway (CNI): Shares are now Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

CME Group (CME): The exchange operator gets moved to Market Perform from Underperform at Keefe Bruyette.

Hawaiian Electric (HE): JP Morgan has a new Neutral on HE.

HomeAway (NASDAQ:AWAY): Piper Jaffray juices its rating on the online vacation rental outfit to Overweight from Neutral.

Morgan Stanley (MS): MS gets a Buy-from-Hold boost by Deutsche Bank.

NorthWestern Corporation (NWE): The utility is now Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird, which takes its target price up by $1 to $47 on a firm it believes is closing in on its objective of securing 50% of Montana retail gas supply via owned-gas assets.

Perfect World (PWRD): Shares get moved to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Statoil (STO): HSBC Securities hoists the energy outfit to Overweight from Neutral.

Uroplasty (UPI): The small cap stock is moved to Outperform from Perform at JMP Securities.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Tiffany Boosted by the Bling Ring and Stock Downgrades: Scotts Miracle-Gro Not Hitting Pay Dirt)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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