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Stock Upgrades: Vitamin Shoppe Can Afford to Buy a Vowel


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

Locusts plague the Holy Land and the nukes of hazard amass in North Korea, yet still Atlas Shrugs and equities head inexorably higher. The Dow (^DJI) set its fifth straight record, shrugging off Marco Polo concerns of an Italian credit downgrade and disappointing Chinese economic data.

In a week that ends with drunken debauchery, alcohol behemoth SABMiller Plc (PINK:SBMRY) appropriately hit the highest level in its history, advancing for a ninth consecutive session. Alas don't expect a downgraded Bayer (PINK:BAYRY) to help with that headache, but Apple's (AAPL) advice to "take two tablets and call me in the morning" might be right after it shrugged off iPad estimate cuts to actually end up.

Oil rose for the third day in a row and is at a new high for the day of $92.44 per barrel as we speak. This on the morning OPEC releases its latest monthly report. Way to go, J.R, you done good.

It's another quite quiet session for economic data, but corporate earnings announcements are due to include Bon-Ton Stores (BONT), China Mobile (CHL), Costco (COST), Dole Food (DOLE), Stage Stores (SSI), and Uranium Energy (UEC).

Axiall Corporation (AXLL): Citigroup upgrades the integrated chemicals and building products company to Buy from Neutral amid its expectation that the real estate recovery will improve PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) margins. The target price, previously $60, is now $69.

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS): Shares, which tumbled 10.85% on Monday, are moved to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman Sachs, which looks for improved core unit growth and online traction. Its price target is, however, trimmed to $53 from $56 on account of multiple compression. The stock is up better than 2% in today's pre-market trading as a result.

First Solar (FSLR): DNB Markets hosts the alternative energy play to Hold from Sell.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG): The accommodation outfit is increased to Neutral from Sell at UBS.

Mosaic (MOS): BMO Capital moves the fertilizer firm to Outperform from Market Perform due to improving global phosphate sentiment among other favorable factors. Its target is taken to $72 from $62.

Sherwin-Williams (SHW): The stock, trading at historic highs, is taken to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse amid improving fundamentals. Its price objective rises to $175 from $161.

VeriFone Systems (PAY): The volatile name is now Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna, which highlights fresh management and the potential for it to be acquired. Accordingly, shares are showing strength before this morning's opening bell.

Vitamin Shoppe (NYSE:VSI): Shares get a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Goldman, which says cyclical investments can act as an upside growth driver. Its increased price objective is $65.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Champagne Still on Ice at LVMH Moet Hennessy and Stock Downgrades: Red Ink at Red Hat.)
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