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Stock Upgrades: Travelers on Road to Riches


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL The S&P 500 (^GSPC) fell 0.32%, snapping a three-week win streak, as Obama and Boehner met for "frank" fiscal cliff talks. (Music to the ears of hot dog maker Nathan's Famous (NATH), which duly hit the highest level in its history.)

Across the Atlantic, EU finance ministers agreed to create a single banking supervisor, as if Europe's problem is too little integration. Eighteen people perished trying to get into Greece in search of a better life. Continental car sales nosedived to a 19-year low so naturally enough, Europe's top stock was…PSA Peugeot Citroën (PINK:PEUGY), which soared 16%.

Earnings announcements expected today include Diamond Foods (DMND), SHFL Entertainment (SHFL), and Stewart Enterprises (STEI).

Airlines: Dahlman Rose gives Buy-from-Hold boosts to Delta (DAL) ($19 price objective), United Continental (UAL) ($29), and US Airways (LCC) ($21.) JetBlue (JBLU) gets hoisted to Hold from Sell.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU): Shares are boosted to Buy from Neutral at Natixis Bleichroeder.

Brown & Brown (BRO): The stock is taken to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital amid improving organic growth.

Informatica (INFA): Piper Jaffray juices its recommendation to Overweight from Neutral.

Lifepoint Hospitals (LPNT): Saying the data suggests volumes are stabilizing, WallachBeth lifts LPNT to Buy from Hold and takes its target up to $42 from $41.

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird.

SAP AG (SAP): The German enterprise software giant gets a Market Perform-from-Underperform increase at JMP Securities, whose channel checks indicate increased sales activity.

Simon Property Group (SPG): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Tenet Healthcare (THC): THC is taken to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Travelers (NYSE:TRV): RBC Capital moves the Dow (^DJI) member to Top Pick from Outperform, impressed by margin growth optimism and expectations for additional rate increases in 2013. The target is raised to $87 from $85.

Unilever (UN): The owner of brands including Axe, Dove, Vaseline, and Lipton, whose shares stand atop an all-time high today, is now Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Milk Dean Foods for All It's Worth and Stock Downgrades: Apple Falls Further From Money Tree.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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