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Stock Upgrades: Lowe's Aims High


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Europeans, in the week some of their number marched while wearing Nazi uniforms in Greece, were awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. Athens' own Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (CCH) decamped for Switzerland, although with unemployment in its home country reaching a record 25.1%, one fears surging demand for its products being employed as Molotov cocktails in upcoming austerity riots.

A knife on a bottle, Hellenic or otherwise, was declared the world's nastiest sound by scientists at the University of Newcastle, while coals-to-Newcastle proved a profitable investment strategy as James River Coal (JRCC) jumped 30.2%. And True Religion (TRLG) rose 22.36% even as it was reported that more Americans are losing their religion.

This morning in economics, analysts expect August business inventories to slip slightly at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. The first full week of third quarter earnings season is upon us, with today's results expected to include Brown & Brown (BRO), Charles Schwab (SCHW), Citigroup (C), Gannett (GCI), Packaging Corp. of America (PKG), and WD-40 Co. (WDFC).

Alliant Techsystems (ATK): ATK is upgraded to Outperform from Perform with a $65 target price at FBR Capital, which notes defense companies are raising their dividends and buying back a significant amount of stock.

Clearwire (CLWR): The stock, up 9.9% before the bell, is now Neutral from Underperform at Macquarie.

Costco (COST): COST is moved to Market Perform from Underperform by BMO Capital based on moderating gross margin pressure and favorable expense leverage. The target price is also taken up, to $106 from $75.

Credit Suisse Group (CS): The bank gets a Neutral-from-Underperform boost by BNP Paribas.

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE): ICE is upgraded to Buy from Hold at BGB Securities amid lower regulatory risk.

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG): Shares are upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan based on favorable trends in general surgery.

Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the home improvement retailer to Buy from Neutral.

New Oriental Education (EDU): EDU is upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer, which has a $25 price target. Channel checks suggest fundamentals remained intact during the past three months.

Paper & Forest Products: Louisiana-Pacific (LPX) and Weyerhaeuser (WY) are each upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital amid increasingly attractive valuations.

Penn Virginia (PVA): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust, whose target is $7.50.

Realty Income (O): The stock is now Neutral from Sell at UBS based on dividend increases.

SanDisk (SNDK): Shares are increased to Outperform from Neutral with Wedbush.

Sprint (S): Shares, surging before the bell, are hoisted to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies, which takes its target up to $7 from $3.

Titan International (TWI): TWI gets taken to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Transocean (RIG): RIG is raised to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Hasbro's Toy Story Has Unhappy Ending and New Stock Coverage: Is Owning ADT a Cause for Alarm?)
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