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Stock Upgrades: Yesterday's Mutiny Provides Bounty for P&G Shareholders


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

A day after effortlessly shrugging off the Syrian Electronic Army, the Dow (^DJI) decided to have a Road to Damascus conversion. Turnaround Tuesday arrived 24 hours late, with blue chips falling 43.16 amid decidedly iffy durable goods data.

General Dynamics (GD), which makes Gulfstream business jets, surged 6.90% to a fresh 52-week peak but an unloved Amgen (AMGN) had better get rid of its own one quick after imploding 6.94% in its worst single session showing for several years.

Elsewhere, even old reliables mom and Apple (AAPL) pie failed to reward investors with Ma Bell AT&T (T) tumbling 5.03% and the erstwhile tech titan taking its 2013 decline to 24%. And the John Thain portfolio proved particularly profitable. The CEO of upgraded CIT Group (CIT) saw that stock surge 4.26% while his longtime nickname iRobot (IRBT) rose 13.71% to a fresh 52-week peak and the Superman lookalike will have equally enjoyed a 5.44% jump in US Steel (X).

The single busiest day of earnings season has arrived with Amazon (AMZN), AstraZeneca (AZN), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Coca-Cola (KO), ConocoPhillips (COP), Exxon Mobil (XOM),Gazprom (PINK:OGZPY), JetBlue Airways (JBLU), Starbucks (SBUX), and United Parcel Service (UPS) all due to report results.

Akamai Technologies (AKAM): JPMorgan moves the stock to Neutral from Overweight.

Apple Inc. (AAPL): Amid optimism over its dividend and stock repurchase program, Hilliard Lyons lifts the troubled tech titan to Buy from Long-Term Buy.

Asbury Automotive (ABG): ABG gets increased to Buy from Hold at Craig Hallum.

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP): Raymond James juices its rating to Outperform from Market Perform.

Cheesecake Factory (CAKE): CAKE is now Neutral from Underperform at Buckingham Research.

Crown Castle International (CCI): Macquarie moves the company to Outperform from Neutral.

Edwards Lifesciences (EW): Calling yesterday's NYSE-worst 21.99% tumble excessive, Northland Capital lifts the stock to Market Perform from Underperform.

F5 Networks (FFIV): The company is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

Federal-Mogul (FDML): Shares are now Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs.

First Niagara (FNFG): Raymond James raises the Savings & Loans stock to Market Perform from Underperform.

Infinera (INFN): Shares are now Buy from Hold with a $12 target at Needham, which notes robust orders from both new and existing customers.

IPC The Hospitalist Company (IPCM): The health services provider gets a Buy-from-Hold hoist at Deutsche Bank.

Lumber Liquidators (LL): Stifel lifts LL to Hold from Sell.

Potlatch (PCH): Raymond James increases the industrial Real Estate Investment Trust to Outperform from Market Perform.

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG): The Dow member, whose brands include Bounty, Crest, and Tide, is today taken to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust. Yesterday's 5.88% stock slide, its worst showing for about four years, provides investors with an attractive entry point in the broker's estimation. Shares are, accordingly, rebounding before the bell as I write.

Residential REITs: FBR Capital raises Real Estate Investment Trusts Annaly Capital (NLY) - Perform from Underperform, taking its target price to $15.50 from $13.50 - and Two Harbors (TWO) - added to its Top Picks list. Catalysts include recent home price appreciation and improvements in sub prime credit quality.

ServiceNow (NOW): Shares are moved to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho, which also increases its price objective to $45 from $35 on a stock it says stands to benefit from an ongoing secular shift to hosted applications.

TriQuint Semiconductor (TQNT): Raymond James takes TQNT to Market Perform from Underperform.

Waste Management (WM): Shares are taken to Buy from Hold with Wunderlich, whose objective also increases to $43 from $35. Meaningful margin expansion can occur from current levels, in its opinion.

Yum Brands (YUM): An impressive earnings release sees the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell score a Market Perform-from-Underperform upgrade at Raymond James.

Zoetis (ZTS): The animal health outfit, a recent spin-off from Pfizer (PFE), is boosted to Market Perform from Underperform by BMO Capital.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Sink Your Teeth Into Diamondback Energy and Stock Downgrades: McGraw-Hill Has Mountain to Climb.)
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