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Stock Upgrades: Netflix Doesn't Need Robin Hood When It Has Robin Wright


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

There was precious little to get Wall Street all aflutter yesterday. This, despite the best efforts of both Bernie, who added cardiac to his arrest, and Carl, whose own ticker is equally dodgy. (Mr. Icahn, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock symbol isn't "APPL.") While the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) continued its anemic start to 2014, Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) hit its highest level since July 17, 2000. That day's newspaper headlines were noteworthy for predictions both startlingly prescient ("Might Be All Downhill Now for Armstrong") and spectacularly presumptuous ("Nader Not a Threat, Gore Insists"). Who'd want to be an Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) anyway, on a day that stock fell 0.34% on a rating reduction? (It scores an immediate upgrade this morning, so the prophets now predict large medium-term gains.)

Elsewhere, it was a case of horses for courses as the stallions of railroad operator Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) inspired its 4.77% surge to a fresh best. This, even as Coach's (NYSE:COH) own equine proved to be but a one-trick pony in slumping 6.03% to post the S&P 500′s (INDEXSP:.INX) second poorest performance. Moral of the story? Training beats coaching. And (NASDAQ:DATE), the of China, tumbled 3.73% as the consequences of that country's prenatal sex-selection preferences become catastrophically clear. Keep an eye on that in the years to come, as a nation where 34 million men can't get any action tends not to be a terrific recipe for societal harmony.

The pace of economic data that may move US stock markets picks up after a quiet start to the week, with December 2013 existing home sales and last month's leading indicators each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, expect Altera (NASDAQ:ALTR), Baxter International (NYSE:BAX), Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR), Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), and Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) to release results.

American States Water (NYSE:AWR): The stock is now Buy from Neutral at Janney.

F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV): Janney gives the tech name a Buy-from-Neutral boost. Sticking with what looks like a lucky number…

Five Below (NASDAQ:FIVE): Baby, it's cold outside, so this is a fine time for Five Below to heat up with an Overweight-from-Equal Weight increase at Barclays.

General Dynamics (NYSE:GD): GD gets upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT): Deutsche Bank hoists Microsoft, a key Dow stock, to Buy from Hold.

Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX): Netflix, thanks to its dubiously dressed House of Cards star Robin Wright, has redistributed wealth to millions way better than the "merry men" of Sherwood Forest ever could. Indeed, it was the S&P 500 stock of 2013, and is surging an additional 16.97% as we speak, this after announcing stellar earnings. Today it is taken to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital.

Norfolk Southern: The surging railroad name is raised to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan. Its price objective, previously $92, increases to $110.

Oracle: It seems like only yesterday the soothsayers were advising us to avoid Oracle but, as L.P. Hartley once opined, "The past is foreign country. They do things differently there." Indeed. Only twenty-four hours on, the stock is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

NetSuite (NYSE:N): Shares are now Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX): Raymond James juices its recommendation to Outperform from Perform.

Remy Cointreau (OTCMKTS:REMYF): The cognac king is lifted to Neutral from Sell at Citigroup.

Varian Medical (NYSE:VAR): Cantor Fitzgerald moves the stock to Buy from Hold.

See also:

New Stock Coverage: World Wrestling Entertainment Is Real, and It's Spectacular

Stock Downgrades: Brazil's World Cup Year Is No Time to Own GOL
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