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Stock Upgrades: Yum Brands, Inc. Is Good Enough to Eat

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

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Ironic on a day the planet's biggest hotel operator rode a ratings increase to surge 5.80% in hitting an historic high, but fears that the end of "accommodation" is here sent stocks slumping. InterContinental (IHG) owns Holiday Inn yet International Business Machines (IBM) telling workers to take a week's vacation, allied to a timely analyst downgrade, sent that stock tumbling 2.31% to lead Dow (^DJI) laggards. JC Penney (JCP) fell for a sixth straight session, plunging 3.91% to its lowest level since January 2001. (That month Greece adopted the euro and Uncle Sam approved AOL Inc.'s (AOL) takeover of Time Warner (TWX). Oh dear, in each case.) TripAdvisor (TRIP) bucked a decidedly down day in gaining 1.63% to a fresh best but Gulliver's travels aren't going so well at HSBC Holdings (HBC), which took its two-day fall to over 5%.

There isn't any top-tier economic data due today, but quarterly earnings announcements are expected out of AOL, Inc. (AOL), Duke Energy (DUK), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), Groupon (GRPN), Mondelez (MDLZ), Ralph Lauren (RL),Tesla Motors (TSLA), Time Warner (TWX), Transocean (RIG), and Wendy's (WEN).

Allot Communications (ALLT): Oppenheimer increases its investment assessment to Outperform from Perform, establishing a price objective of $18. The bank highlights approximately 20% annual bookings growth to an all-time best.

Bridgepoint Education (BPI): BPI is boosted to Overweight from Equal Weight at First Analysis.

Cognizant Technology (CTSH): Shares get hoisted to Buy from Hold at Berenberg.

Digital Generation (DGIT): DGIT gets upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Northland Capital amid annual top-line sequential growth acceleration.

Fiserv (FISV): Sterne Agee raises its rating to Buy from Neutral.

GDF Suez (GDFHY): The stock is hoisted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN): Credit Suisse moves MJN to Outperform from Neutral.

Parker-Hannifin (PH): Shares get upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Plains All American (PAA): Credit Suisse raises its rating on the energy outfit to Outperform from Neutral.

Real Estate Investment Trusts: The REIT research team at ISI Group, top ranked by Institutional Investor magazine in its poll of equity analysts, gives upgrades to Corporate Office Properties (OFC) (Buy from Neutral) and SL Green Realty (SLG) (Neutral from Sell.)

Royal DSM (RDSMY): The Dutch life sciences stock is now Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Sanofi-Aventis (SNY): Berenberg boosts the pharmaceutical firm to Buy from Hold.

Standard Chartered (SCBFF): A post-earnings increase for the financial firm, today taken to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital.

Tornier (TRNX): JPMorgan moves the medical instruments outfit to Overweight from Neutral.

Yum Brands, Inc. (YUM): The owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell is lifted to Neutral from Underperform by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Zillow Inc Is in Real Trouble and New Stock Coverage: Bet the Bank on Baxter International Inc.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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