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Stock Upgrades: Tiffany's Time to Shine?


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

Investors were left shell-shocked after a previously omnipotent tech titan and maker of fancy phones endured an absolute calamity. But enough about Nokia (NOK), fresh from nosediving 8.19%, and Samsung (PINK:SSNLF), which fell to a two-month low in Seoul today. All investors wanted to know about was Apple Inc. (AAPL), which imploded 12.35% in its single worst showing since 2008.

Elsewhere, President Obama picked Mary Jo White to lead the SEC, saying that the organization "played a critical role in protecting our financial system during the worst of the financial crisis." Uh, if you say so sir, although that's not how it seemed at the time, what with its staffers busy perusing porn while Bernie embezzled billions. (To be fair, the organization was admirably swift to act when confronted with genuine danger, cracking down on such dire economic threats as friendly Facebook (FB) posts from Netflix (NFLX). That'll teach 'em.)

Today in economics, analysts are expecting an increase in December new home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. A breathless week for fourth quarter earnings announcements concludes with Covidien (COV), Halliburton (HAL), Honeywell (HON), Kimberly-Clark (KMB), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Weyerhaeuser (WY) all due to report results.

Agrium (AGU): The fertilizer firm follows yesterday's strong showing with an increase to Buy from Hold at Dahlman Rose, which has expectations for improving industry fundamentals.

AMC Networks (AMCX): Morgan Stanley moves the stock, home of Mad Men, to Equal-Weight from Underweight.

Amgen (AMGN): The world's biggest biotech is boosted to Buy from Hold with a $96 price objective at Argus, which is impressed with good growth of new products and solid pipeline opportunities.

Autodesk (ADSK): A highly unusual 180 degree upgrade here, with the stock taken to Conviction Buy from Sell at Goldman Sachs. Improved execution and an acceleration in non-residential construction end-markets are cited. The price objective is also substantially increased, to $45 from $25.

easyJet (PINK:ESYJY) The budget British airline is now Buy from Neutral at UBS.

eBay Inc. (EBAY): Sanford Bernstein moves the stock to Outperform from Market Perform with a $66 objective. The broker believes that accelerating Marketplace growth is sustainable and will create tailwinds for Paypal. (Note that the stock was also picked up with a Positive rating at Susquehanna this morning.)

JPMorgan Chase (JPM): The Dow (^DJI) member gets a Buy-from-Hold boost at Deutsche Bank, which believes it is well positioned for when consumer loan growth improves. Its price objective is $53, up from $48 previously.

Panera Bread (PNRA): Miller Tabak takes the equity to Buy from Hold.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A): The oil outfit is trading higher in London today after a Buy-from-Hold hoist at Société Générale, which emphasizes its "high-quality, long-life, low-decline assets."

Silicon Graphics (SGI): SGI gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee.

Sony (SBE): The Japanese consumer electronics giant, on a real run of late, gets lifted to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Swift Transportation (SWFT): Raymond James juices its rating to Strong Buy from Outperform.

Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) HSBC Securities hoists the recently slumping upscale jeweler to Overweight from Neutral. Its target price is now $74, up from $69. Shares are surging 3.10% before the opening bell as a result.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Cash in the Attic at eBay and Stock Downgrades: Saying Goodbye to Goldman.)
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