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Stock Upgrades: Kraft Cracks a Smile After Saying 'Cheese'


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL An employee of Macy's (M) retired after 73 years on the job, but it will take much more than a Miracle on 34th Street for future employees to enjoy such longevity after the labor force participation rate plunged to lows last seen in September 1981. That truly was another era, back when women's tennis finals at the US Open went over two hours and Indiana Jones was still in movie theaters.

Today in economics, July consumer credit is expected to show an expansion at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Astoria Financial (AF), Five Below (FIVE), John Wiley & Sons (JW-A), Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH), Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (PPHM), Shuffle Master (SHFL), and Titan Machinery (TITN) are all due to report results.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD): AMD is upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman amid an attractive valuation. The new target is $3.50.

American Eagle Outfitters (AEO): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee, which expects top line growth to accelerate due to increased domestic square footage growth among other factors.

Amgen (AMGN): The biotech is boosted to Buy from Neutral at UBS, which also takes its target up by a substantial $16 to $96.

Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the stock to Buy from Neutral.

Carpenter Technology (CRS): Shares are upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Dover Corp (DOV): JPMorgan moves the stock to Neutral from Underweight.

Fulton Financial (FULT): FULT is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee.

Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL): The São Paulo air carrier, cut elsewhere this morning, is boosted to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Kraft Foods (KFT): The Dow (^DJI) member, down 3.7% last week, is upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital, which recommends purchase ahead of the October 1 split. The target is taken also up by $2, to $44.

Metals USA (MUSA): MUSA gets moved to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

NextEra Energy (NEE): NEE is now Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

NRG Energy (NRG): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman.

Martin Marietta (MLM): MLM gets moved to Overweight from Equal Weight at Stephens.

Moody's (MCO) The stock is now Buy from Neutral at Lazard Capital.

Regions Financial (RF): RF is raised to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Sanofi-Aventis (SNY): The stock is now Buy from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Santarus (SNTS): Shares are upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

Smith & Nephew (SNN): The stock is boosted all the way to Buy from Sell at Citigroup.

Sprint Nextel (S): S is now Buy from Neutral at Nomura, which thinks its Network Vision will result in cost savings and rising margins.

Venoco (VQ): VQ is upgraded to Overweight from Underweight at JPMorgan.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Rush to Fall in Love With Hi-Crush Partners and Stock Downgrades: Taking Scissors to Paper Stock Rock-Tenn.)
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