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Upgrades & Downgrades: Kraft Can Be the Big Cheese


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Rising stocks may make for falling ratings, but few outside CNBC are currently complaining. Shrugging off depressing data on US GDP - perhaps there may be something to that squishy Happiness Index as an alternative after all - stocks scored their best weekly showing since mid-March as earnings continued to surprise to the upside and the Fed indicated it may keep the punch bowl close at hand. The bear, literally and figuratively, continues to stalk our campuses with exploding student debt suddenly a campaign issue but "plastics," that sage advice given The Graduate in the Summer of Love, proved profitable for parents everywhere after credit card companies Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA) each advanced to all-time highs. Lumberjacks were just anointed the worst job in the world yet the heavily forested Pacific Northwest had the last laugh as money tree Expedia (EXPE), based in Bellevue, Washington, jumped 26% to top the entire S&P Index (^GSPC). Amazon (AMZN), from neighboring Seattle, finished up 15.75% on Friday alone for its strongest single-session showing in two and a half years, since its introduction of its Kindle e-reader. (This as a book first published 57 years ago finds itself atop the best seller lists again; clearly good things still come to those who wait.)

Ben Bernanke has read 200 Kindle books in only 18 months, although presumably none by Paul Krugman as an increasingly frenzied food fight continues between the graybeards. This added insult to ample injury for Gillette razor blade maker Procter & Gamble (PG), downgraded this morning after sliding 4.6% in its worst weekly showing since September. Fellow Dow (^DJI) member Wal-Mart (WMT) fared even worse, falling 5.5% with accusations of $24 million in Mexican bribes wiping off billions in market cap. And Britain entered its first double dip recession since the 1970s, when a green grocer's daughter - who knew more about how to deal with spinach dips than George Costanza ever will - arrived in the nick of time to rescue the country from economic abyss. This morning in economics, analysts are forecasting a fall in April's Chicago Purchasing Managers Index at 9:45 a.m. Eastern. Peak earnings week has passed but first quarter results continue to roll in with Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), McKesson Corp (MCK), Plum Creek Timber (PCL), Veeco Instruments (VECO), and Watson Pharmaceuticals (WPI) among today's announcements.


Amarin (AMRN): Citigroup starts the Dublin-based drug-maker at a Buy, sending the stock up ahead of the opening bell.

Broadsoft (BSFT): The equity is a new Neutral at Cowen & Company.

Covanta (CVA): CVA is covered at Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Enphase Energy (ENPH): Deutsche Bank and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch both begin Buy rated research, while Morgan Stanley assigns an equally bullish Overweight.

Supervalu (SVU): Shares are initiated with a Sell at Goldman Sachs.


Kraft Foods (KFT): The Dow member, which makes Velveeta and much else, is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan. Catalysts include a compelling valuation and expectations that the GroceryCo dividend yield could be higher than expectations. Its price objective is $45.

American Railcar Industries (ARII): ARII is now Neutral from Sell at UBS.

AstraZeneca (AZN): Shares are up in London this morning after JPMorgan Cazenove lifted it to Neutral from Underweight.

British Sky Broadcasting (BSYBY): The stock is boosted to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Calpine (CPN): The electric utility is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Chesapeake Energy (CHK): Shares in the beleaguered company are upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital.

Compass Minerals (CMP): CMP is moved to Buy from Hold at Keybanc.

Daimler (DDAIY): Kepler Capital Markets lifts the German luxury car giant to Buy from Hold.

Dollar General (DG): Raymond James raises its recommendation to Strong Buy from Outperform.

Federated Investors (FII): FII is now Neutral from Sell at Citigroup.

First Industrial Realty (FR): Janney Montgomery Scott raises its rating to Buy from Neutral.

HMS Holdings (HMSY): Jefferies juices the cost containment company to Buy from Hold.

Idenix Pharmaceuticals (IDIX): Shares are upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at JMP Securities.

Kaiser Aluminum (KALU): KALU is upgraded to Buy from Hold with a $70 price target at Dahlman Rose, which says it is entering a sweet spot as aluminum plate inventory levels have improved.

Medtronic (MDT): MDT is increased to Buy from Neutral at Lazard.

RailAmerica (RA): RA is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

ResMed (RMD): RMS, cut elsewhere today, is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

SandRidge Energy (SD): SD is up sharply this morning on an upgrade to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

TASER (TASR): TASR is taken to Buy from Neutral at Dougherty.

Veolia Environnement (VE): VE is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.


Procter & Gamble (PG): The blue chip is downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer, which says it appears to have been disproportionately impacted by sluggish market growth and market share losses.

Nokia (NOK): NOK is now Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU): Shares are downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.

Arkansas Best (ABFS): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers its rating to Underperform from Neutral.

AM Castle (CAS): CAS is cut to Hold from Buy at Keybanc.

Citizens Republic Bancorp (CRBC): Shares are downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer due to valuation.

Inphi (IPHI): The stock is moved to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

PPL Corp (PPL): PPL is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Protalix BioTherapeutics (PLX): Shares are lowered to Hold from Buy at Auriga.

Randgold Resources (GOLD): The stock is off in London after Nomura downgraded it to Reduce from Neutral, citing political risks in Mali.

ResMed (RMD): RMD is reduced to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

TransCanada Corp (TRP): TRP is downgraded Sector Perform from Outperform at CIBC World Markets.

TreeHouse Foods (THS): Shares are taken to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

VeriFone (PAY): Deutsche Bank downgrades the stock to Sell from Hold.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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