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Upgrades & Downgrades: Amazon Still a Money Tree


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

Oh for the innocent age of, say, a week ago when it appeared all investors really had to worry about was China. Stocks fell for a second straight session after disappointing economic data in both Europe and the United States. Britain reported real household income took its steepest slide since the punk heyday of 1977 - undoubtedly disappointing but, as noted London School of Economics alumnus Mick Jagger aptly put it, you can't always get what you want. On this side of the Atlantic, durable goods missed expectations. These are defined as expensive items designed to last upwards of three years, such as aircrafts. Although in light of recent fights aboard both US Airways (LCC) and JetBlue (JBLU) - each incidentally good gainers yesterday - maybe that is a little optimistic. Fight or flight? More like both. Investors craving an adrenalin rush, and carb coma, found it elsewhere. If Tuesday was all about Mack the Knife, then mac, cheese, and a greasy spoon commanded center stage 24 hours later. Annie's Inc (BNNY) advanced 89.05% in a stellar first trading day for the organic food firm based in the hippy heartland of Berkeley, California. Indeed, natural offerings appear to be all the rage - Starbucks (SBUX) scored another all-time high after including insects in its Frappuccinos.

Financials were the only sector to gain - that is so long as you stayed away from banks. Specifically women's clothing company Christopher & Banks, which shed 15.68%, and its men's equivalent Jos. A. Bank (JOSB), after it ended off 8.55%. Bank of America (BAC) gained 1.56% to pace all blue chips, but a $6 million pay raise for its CEO in 2011 is surely a bit much in a year the stock slid 58%. Elsewhere Pentair (PNR) jumped 15.05% to reach a multi-decade summit and Tyco International (TYC) gained 4.26% after the two companies reached a deal on flow control. The perkiness of Flo the Progressive (PGR) spokeswoman can never be controlled, nor should it after her stock rode an analyst upgrade to stand at another fresh peak. Positive research comments also sent Zoltek (ZOLT) higher by 9.91% to top all Russell 2000 (^RUT) issues. It makes carbon fibers for windmills as Spain, the land of Don Quixote currently in recession and on strike, continues to tilt at them. And 33 was determined to be the best year of our life. That age is certainly proving profitable for Greg Smith. Today's earnings announcements are expected to include Bank of China (BACHY.PK), Best Buy (BBY), Cascade Corp (CASC), Franklin Covey (FC), Hennes & Mauritz, Movado Group (MOV), Research In Motion (RIMM), Shaw Group (SHAW), Telecom Italia (TI), and Worthington Industries (WOR).


Internet stocks: ThinkEquity begins Buys on (AMZN), eBay Inc (EBAY), Google (GOOG), and Zillow (Z) ($40 price target). It has a Hold on Yahoo (YHOO).

F5 Networks (FFIV): Shares are a Hold at Capstone Investments, which notes it is currently trading at a significant premium to peers.

LogMeIn (LOGM): Needham launches Buy rated coverage with a price objective of $48.

Informatica (INFA): Shares are a new Neutral at Mizuho, whose target price is also $48.

Potash (POT): The fertilizer firm is picked up with an Outperform rating and $60 price target at Raymond James.

Ross Stores (ROST): Brokerage William Blair resumes the stock at Outperform.

Stanley Black & Decker (SWK): The equity is initiated with a Market Perform at Wells Fargo.


Auto stocks: Ford Motor (F) is added to the Top Picks Live list at Citigroup, which also boosts Delphi Automotive (DLPH) to Buy from Neutral.

ArcelorMittal (MT): The world's largest steel producer is raised to Neutral from Underperform by BNP Paribas.

Alliance Data Systems (ADS): ADS is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

Apollo Investment (AINV): The stock gets moved to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Delhaize Group (DEG): Citigroup raises its rating to Neutral from Sell.

Nordstrom (JWN): The luxury retailer gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Pentair (PNR): PNR is boosted to Outperform from Market Perform at William Blair.

Suez Environnement (SZEVY.PK): The French firm is now Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse

True Religion (TRLG): Lazard lifts the apparel outfit to Buy from Neutral.

Tyco International (TYC): Shares are taken to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Wells Fargo (WFC): The bank is boosted to Buy from Neutral at Nomura , which sees it benefiting from a reduction in loan prepayment risk.


American Express (AXP): The Dow member is moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo, due to valuation and limited upside. Its objective is now $60-$64.

Telecoms: AT&T Inc (T) and Verizon (VZ), both blue chips, are each now Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird amid increased concerns for industry ROIC (Return on Invested Capital.)

Banks: U.S. Bancorp (USB) and PNC Financial (PNC) are each now Neutral from Buy at Nomura

Whole Foods (WFM): Citing an extended valuation after its recent run to record highs, Goldman downgrades the firm to Neutral from Buy. The target is now $88.

Janus Capital (JNS): JNS gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Higher One (ONE): The company is now Neutral from Buy at Goldman amid reduced near-term earnings visibility.

HollyFrontier (HFC): Credit Suisse cuts HFC to Neutral from Buy

ThyssenKrupp (TYEKF.PK): The German industrial machinery giant is trading lower in London this morning after BNP Paribas reduced its recommendation to Underperform from Neutral.

Allscripts-Misys Healthcare (MDRX): MDRX is moved to Hold from Buy at Auriga.

Buckeye Technologies (BKI): BKI is taken to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Deutsche Boerse (DBOEY.PK): The company is downgraded to Reduce from Neutral at WestLB.

Magna International (MGA): The auto parts outfit gets slashed to Sell from Neutral at Citi.

Mechel Steel (MTL): MTL is moved to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Nexxus Lighting (NEXS): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform with Wedbush.

Vivendi (VIVEF.PK): The French firm is taken to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities.

Wesco Aircraft (WAIR): WAIR is lowered to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.
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