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Stock Upgrades: Railroads Back on Track

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL The RVs of Winnebago (WGO) were on a road to nowhere, with that stock dropping 3.46% on a ratings reduction. Far better to hitch a ride on the T-Mobile girl's motorcycle, after MetroPCS (PCS) surged some 17.80% on talk it will merge with the Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) division.

As the Bronx Bombers closed inexorably in on another divisional title, Bronx natives Ralph Lifshitz and Lloyd Blankfein saw their Ralph Lauren (RL) and Goldman Sachs (GS) continue a strong start to the week. Ex-prisoner Steven Madden (SHOO) from nearby Far Rockaway enjoyed a 3.49% jump in his stock but Bernie Madoff, also born in New York's biggest borough, sank to a new low.

Today in economics, the Institute for Supply Management's September services index is out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Family Dollar (FDO), Marriott International (MAR), Monsanto (MON), and Wolverine World Wide (WWW) are all due to report results.

American Axle (AXL): AXL is upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital, which takes its target up to $16 from $13.

Assurant (AIZ): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Goldman, which says valuation now reflects regulatory risks and debt capacity.

DineEquity (DIN): The owner of Applebee's and International House of Pancakes is upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital, whose target price is $68. Catalysts include better than expected channel checks.

Railroads: CSX Corp (NYSE:CSX) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) are each moved to Market Perform from Underperform by Sanford Bernstein. Both equities are trading up ahead of the opening bell as a result.

Semtech (SMTC): Lazard lifts the stock to Buy from Neutral.

Thoratec (THOR): Shares are boosted to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

Xstrata (XSRAY): UBS boosts the commodity company to Buy from Neutral.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: McGraw-Hill Stands to Make Mountain of Money and Stock Downgrades: Messing With Texas Instruments.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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