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Upgrades & Downgrades: Smith & Wesson Shoots for the Stars


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Greece prepared for its lighting of the Olympic flame this morning by going up in smokes, dragging down global stocks in its wake. The Dow (^DJI) dropped for a sixth straight day, its longest losing streak since our own debt debacle last August, as the cradle of democracy struggles to form a government. Noted economist Ginger Rogers, who memorably broke into PIIGS Latin in Gold Diggers of 1933, was right on the money in noting "the long-lost dollar has come back to the fold" after the greenback rose for an eighth consecutive session against the euro, even if gold-digging is suddenly a lot less lucrative now that bullion has slid to its lowest level of the year. "Yes! We Have No Bananas," another iconic song of the era, was a phrase coined by Greek greengrocer Jimmy Costas. His countrymen are clearly long shares of Chiquita Brands (CQB), which slipped 28.93% to post the NYSE's worst performance.

Some stocks did manage to buck the overall downtrend in style. Church & Dwight (CHD), whose products include Trojan condoms and Arm & Hammer baking soda, rose to an all-time high. Its CEO brags that "we're involved in 688 trillion chocolate chip cookies and 520 million sex acts" every year but for those who prefer more innocent chocolate Kisses, Hershey (HSY) rode an analyst upgrade to hit a historic peak of its own. Walt Disney (DIS), whose Mickey Mouse helped hide a gun in an airport this week, was number-one with a bullet again, its 1.63% increase making it the Dow's best stock once more. And while modern Athens implodes, ancient Egypt's pyramid schemes piled on the profits. With King Tut's discoverer honored with a Google (GOOG) doodle, Rosetta Stone (RST) rose 8.43% and Blue Nile (NILE) jumped 10.70%. Today's earnings announcements are expected to include Assured Guaranty (AGO), Black Box Corp (BBOX) CA Inc (CA), Molycorp (MCP), Nordstrom (JWN), Sotheby's (BID), and Windstream (WIN).


Black Diamond (BDE): BDE is initiated with a Buy at Canaccord Genuity.

Capstead Mortgage (CMO): Shares are a new Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Firearms firms: Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm Ruger (RGR) are both begun with Buys at The Benchmark Company, which assigns respective price objectives of $9 and $60. Growing social acceptance of firearms ownership throughout the country, as evidenced by recent polling data and regional results, is driving increased firearm ownership.

European pharmaceuticals: Société Générale rolls out Buy-rated research on Roche Holding (RHHBY), Sanofi-Aventis (SNY), and Novartis (NVS). It has Holds on German drug giant Merck KGaA (MKGAY), AstraZeneca (AZN), and Bayer (BAYRY).

Phillips 66 (PSX): PSX gets picked up a Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

YM BioSciences (YMI): The equity is initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray.


ARM Holdings (ARMH): Shares are upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform by Sanford Bernstein.

Big Lots (BIG): BIG is boosted to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays.

EW Scripps (SSP): SSP is upgraded to Buy from Hold with an $11 target price at The Benchmark Company, which says its balance sheet remains one of the strongest in the industry.

General Growth Properties (GGP): GGP gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

Hennes & Mauritz (HMRZF): The Swedish clothing company rose more than 1% after UBS upgraded it to buy from neutral, saying the group is gaining market share.

JDS Uniphase (JDSU): UBS takes the tech stock to Buy from Neutral.

Keryx Biopharma (KERX): Shares are surging before the opening bell after getting upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Roth Capital.

Marriot Vacations (MAR): Goldman Sachs gives the stock a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Nexen (NXY): NXY is now Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

Plains All American (PAA): The stock is added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman.

Post Properties (PPS): PPS is upgraded to Buy from Hold with Wunderlich, which takes its target to $58 from $47. Sales of luxury condominiums have picked up of late.

Prudential (PRU): The financial firm is upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Scientific Games (SGMS): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Brean Murray.

Tempur-Pedic (TPX): TPX is taken to Strong Buy from Market Perform at Raymond James.

Total S.A. (TOT): TOT is upgraded to Buy from Accumulate at Tudor Pickering.

Vulcan Materials (VMC): RBC Capital raises its recommendation to Outperform from Sector Perform.


3M Co (MMM): The Dow component is cut to Market Perform from Outperform by Sanford Bernstein.

Abovenet (ABVT): ABVT is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo.

AMAG Pharmaceuticals (AMAG): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Robert W. Baird, which trims its target by $4 to $17.

Aon Corp (AON): AON is downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.

Ariba (ARBA): Shares are downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth Capital.

Dolby Labs (DLB): DLB is downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Extra Space Storage (EXR): EXR is cut to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Human Genome Sciences (HGSI): HGSI is moved to Market Perform from Outperform at Leerink Swann.

Martin Marietta (MLM): Shares are downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Oracle (ORCL): ORCL is downgraded to Hold from Buy at ThinkEquity.

PartnerRe (PRE): PRE is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Silicon Graphics (SGI): The stock is downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee.

Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA): TEVA is taken to Hold from Strong Buy at Needham after another quarter of disappointing top-line trends and increased near-term uncertainty.

Vail Resorts (MTN): MTN is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): Shares are now rated Outperform at RBC Capital, down from its prior designation of Top Pick. The stock is lower before the bell as a result.

Western Gas Partners (WES): WES is downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.
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