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Stock Upgrades: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Is a Bargain

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

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We should have known equities were in for a rough ride when President Obama began the day pontificating by the Brandenburg Gate. The last time an American leader gave an address there in the month of June, it didn't end well for Mr. Market.

A wag once described a committee as "a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours," but investors failed to see the funny side in the Federal Open Market Committee's latest missive. Clearly the Fed should talk less, or at least speak much more softly - even when you're Yellen.

Lennon (the Liverpudlian singer, not the left-wing leader) once wondered, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" Alas for 64-year-old George Zimmer, cast aside from a youth-seeking Men's Wearhouse (MW), the answer was no. And with dwarf-tossing all the rage on Wall Street, maybe Mrs. Helmsley was wrong to say, "Only the little people pay taxes." This as Domenico Dolce and his decidedly short sidekick Stefano Gabbana were found guilty of tax evasion.

We get a trifecta of economic data today at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, namely May existing home sales, leading indicators, and the Philadelphia Fed Index for June. In earnings action, expect announcement out of Kroger (KR), Oracle (ORCL), Pier 1 Imports (PIR), and Rite Aid (RAD).

Alcatel-Lucent SA (ALU): The French telecom firm - downgraded elsewhere this morning - is upgraded by both Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (an unusual 180 degrees, to Buy from Underperform) and UBS (Neutral from Sell.)

Ann Inc (ANN): Oppenheimer raises the firm formerly known as AnnTaylor to Outperform from Perform.

Cohu, Inc. (COHU): The semiconductor stock is now Buy from Hold with a $16 price objective at Needham, which points to potential cross-selling opportunities and market share gains.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. (CAG): Citigroup adds the firm to its Top Picks Live list. Its price target is $41.

Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ): The top-performing Dow (^DJI) stock of 2013 is inching up further in a rough overall tape this morning after getting taken to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo. Catalysts include ample free cash growth and divestiture opportunities.

Integrys Energy Group, Inc. (TEG): TEG is taken to Outperform from Perform with an amended target price of $64 at Robert W. Baird, which says a favorable Illinois verdict is poised to boost the company's EPS (earnings per share) growth profile.

Manulife Financial Corporation (USA) (MFC): BMO Capital Markets moves the equity to Outperform from Perform.

Nevsun Resources (USA) (NSU): The small cap name is hoisted to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc (PCL): An increasingly attractive valuation sees DA Davidson increase its investment opinion to Neutral from Underperform.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT): Raymond James raises the retailer, a blue chip component, to Outperform from Market Perform. Its price objective is $84.

Weyerhaeuser Company (WY): Shares get an Outperform-from-Market Perform boost by BMO Capital Markets.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Urban Outfitters, Inc. Heading Uptown and Stock Downgrades: ESPN Woes Put The Walt Disney Company in Penalty Box.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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