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Upgrades & Downgrades: Yelp Nothing to Shout About


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

Titanic week this may be but what the market just endured was less a night to remember than a day to forget. You know it's a bad one when National Bank of Greece (NBG), exempt from investor criticism after surging 18.89% amid the carnage, is easily the NYSE's top performer. Unlike everyone's favorite doomed vessel, Spain's Niña, Pinta and Santa María actually made it ashore, but it's instructive to note that they would never have set sail were it not for a 15th century pawn star. It may take half a millennia, but all debt eventually comes due and a spike in Spanish ten-year bond yields to 5.99% sent stocks slumping in Europe, whose overworked darlings were ready to trade again after a four day Easter break. (Right on cue, La-Z-Boy (LZB) imploded 8.34% as a continent wearily went back to the office.) On this side of the Atlantic equities endured their worst day of 2012, the Dow (^DJI) now down for five straight sessions to stand at its lowest level since February 2nd; fitting for as long as there are PIIGS every day is doomed to be Groundhog Day. Yesterday marked the 87th anniversary of the ultimate testament to the Roaring Twenties, The Great Gatsby. Marvelous book but when its author claimed "there are no second acts in American lives" he couldn't have been more wrong, for this country is all about constant reinvention. So it was that Apple (AAPL), months from bankruptcy in 1997, yesterday crossed $600 billion in market capitalization for the first time. Sony (SNE), whose Walkman was the iPod of its era, will hope for a similar turnaround after tumbling 9.25% amid losses and layoffs.

American International Group (AIG), a global piñata after the Great Recession, is certainly enjoying Act Two, in which analysts rush to applaud its apparent metamorphosis. Best Buy (BBY), which fell 5.87% after CEO Brian Dunn "resigned", will try to take inspiration for its next chapter from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Six years after its chairman Patricia Dunn "resigned" in a spying scandal, the tech company was the only blue chip to end up. Other gainers included adult nightclub owner Rick's Cabaret (RICK) - as they said of the Titanic, "and the band played on." And Taser (TASR) advanced 2.78% even as Smith&Wesson (SWHC) slumped 7.88%, shareholders concluding stun guns are safer than the real thing because they can't kill you. Today in economics, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book of regional financial conditions is out at 2:00 pm Eastern. In earnings action, Adtran Inc (ADTN), Northern Technologies (NTIC), Richardson Electronics (RELL), and Titan Machinery (TITN) are due to report results.


Department stores: UBS begins Nordstrom (JWN) with a Buy and assigns new Neutrals on Macy's (M), Kohl's (KSS), JC Penney (JCP), and Saks (SKS).

1-800-FLOWERS (FLWS): Shares are a fresh Buy at Noble Financial, which assigns a price objective of $5. Acceleration is seen in Consumer Floral growth as economy improves.

Yelp Inc (YELP): The recent Internet IPO is a new Neutral at Goldman Sachs, a Hold at Hold at Jefferies, and a Perform at Oppenheimer, which establishes a price objective of $23. Valuation concerns are cited in the lukewarm coverage, although shares are up in a solid overall tape before the bell.

Marriott Vacations (VAC): VAC is begun with a Buy and $38 target price at Canaccord Genuity, which highlights its strength selling timeshare products.

NVIDIA (NVDA): The stock is a new Outperform at RBC Capital.

American Superconductor (AMSC): The small cap is covered with a Buy rating and $7 target at Maxim Group.

AVI BioPharma (AVII): JMP Securities starts Outperform coverage on AVII.

Broadsoft (BSFT): Shares are begun with a Buy and $46 target at Barclays.

Calavo Growers (CVGW): CVGW is covered at an Outperform with Wedbush.

Fidelity National Information Services (FIS): Shares are a fresh Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

New Oriental Education & Technology (EDU): EDU is a new Outperform at Macquarie.

Old Line Bancshares (OLBK): Saying that the risk/reward trade-off is compelling, Robert W. Baird resumes research at Outperform and sets a $13 objective.

Regional banks: Goldman begins Buys on both BB&T Capital (BBT) and Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB). It starts Sells on Comerica (CMA) and Zions Bancorporation (ZION).

Sealed Air (SEE): Keybanc Capital has a Hold on the maker of Bubble Wrap.

Skullcandy (SKUL): Shares are initiated with an Outperform and $23 target at Northland Securities, which says catalysts include the high growth consumer audio category propelled by a strong secular trend in smart mobile devices.

Sterling Financial (STSA): Shares are initiated with a Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.


Bank of America (BAC): The Dow member gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA): Shares are hoisted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Barclays (BCS): Staying in the sector, BCS is up sharply in London this morning after Investec Securities upgraded it to Buy from Hold.

Acme Packet (APKT): Barclays boosts the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.

AMC Networks: (AMCX): Shares are boosted to Average from Below Average at Caris & Company.

Cohen & Steers Inc (CNS): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts its rating to Buy from Neutral.

Eldorado Gold (EGO): EGO gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL): MPEL is moved to Buy from Neutral at Goldman.

MetLife (MET): MET is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

Silicon Labs (SLAB): SLAB is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Wunderlich, which takes its target up to $50 from $44. The recent sell-off has provided an attractive entry point, in its view.

Telefónica (TEF): Shares are up before the bell on a Neutral-from-Sell upgrade at UBS.


BT Group (BT): The telecom firm is lower in London this morning ater J.P. Morgan Cazenove cut it to Neutral from Overweight.

SAP AG (SAP): The German software giant gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at ThinkEquity.

GameStop (GME): Shares are now Hold from Buy at Needham amid the specter of slowing retail sales.

NetApp (NTAP): Shares are lower in the pre market on a downgrade to Sector Perform from Outperform at FBN Securities.

Hooker Furniture (HOFT): HOFT is cut to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital ahead of today's earnings announcement.

Bemis (BMS): The equity is removed from Citigroup's list of Top Picks Live.

eResearchTechnology (ERT): ETS is cut to Hold from Buy with an $8 objective at The Benchmark Company after the announcement it will be taken private.

Polycom (PLCM): Barclays downgrades PLCM to Equal Weight from Overweight.

General Dynamics (GD): GD gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Lazard.
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