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Upgrades & Downgrades: US Airways Poised to Take Off


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Last week brought news that the Mayans were just messing with us and the world won't actually end this year, though the markets apparently failed to get the message. Shares certainly traded as if the end was nigh, Dow Industrials (^DJI) dropping 1.67% in their worst week of 2012 amid election limbo in Athens and a $2 billion loss at JPMorgan (JPM). Meanwhile, much like the Egyptian man who just awoke at his own funeral, the death of bonds' 30-year bull run may have been greatly exaggerated, with 10-year notes now on their longest winning streak for 14 years and their 30-year counterparts up for a sixth straight week. A gust of wind blew out the Olympic torch in Greece, an eerily apt metaphor for a country full of hot air but fresh out of cold hard cash. This as excessive risk taking by one Achilles Macris, a proud prodigal son of the Mediterranean country, wasn't brought to heel by the House of Morgan and investors were left carrying the can as its shares slumped 11%. The world mourned the loss of Maurice Sendak. His master work sold 20 million copies despite containing only 388 words, none of them $10 ones like "CDX IG Series 9″ and "synthetic credit derivatives."

Sometimes simple is better, and silence golden. Certainly Jamie Dimon must now regret calling frenzied trades of exotic financial instruments a "tempest in a tea pot" on last month's earnings-related conference call. One that took place, prophetically enough, on Friday the 13th. Yesterday the multimillionaire CEO who once said what journalists earn is just "damned outrageous" went on a show called, ironically enough, Meet the Press to offer up a mea culpa. Elsewhere Disney (DIS) rose 6.1% to an all-time high after its Avengers did boffo box office business but Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) can attest that such success is often fleeting, having gone from Hunger Games glory to a Miley Cyrus laughing stock in a matter of weeks. And birthday boy Mark Zuckerberg today turns 28 ahead of Friday's $96 billion Facebook IPO. The young may own the future but for now octogenarians everywhere are on the march. Warren Buffett, 81, just helped provide financing for a proposed $10.7 billion takeover of Avon (AVP) and Rupert Murdoch, also 81, saw his News Corp (NWS) rise to a five-year high. Come to think of it, 84-year-old Paul Volcker ain't looking so bad either. No top-tier economic data out today but Agilent Technologies (A), Groupon (GRPN), and Silver Wheaton Corp (SLW) are among companies due to announce quarterly earnings.


Gamestop (GME): GME gets launched with a Neutral at Lazard.

Splunk (SPLK): The enterprise software stock offers something for everyone today, being begun with an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley, a Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, and an Underperform and $33 price objective at CLSA. Its analyst Ed Maguire notes "Expectations…leave no room for error and scant upside potential."

Tumi Holdings (TUMI): The apparel outfit, a recent IPO, is initiated with a Buy at Jefferies and an Outperform with brokerage William Blair.

Walter Energy (WLT): Shares are initiated with an Outperform with Wells Fargo.


Arch Coal (ACI): Citing an increasingly attractive valuation, UBS increases the commodity company to Buy from Neutral and assigns an $11 target price.

Ares Capital (ARCC): ARCC is upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight by Barclays.

Career Education (CECO): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Underperform at BMO Capital.

Caribou Coffee (CBOU): The stock is boosted to Buy from Hold at Dougherty.

Citi Trends (CTRN): The stock is moved to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells.

Crédit Agricole (CRARY): The French firm is now Neutral from Reduce at Natixis.

Francesca's (FRAN): Shares are now Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna.

Hologic (HOLX): JPMorgan hoists HOLX to Overweight from Neutral.

Homebuilders: Guggenheim gives D.R. Horton (DHI), Lennar (LEN), PulteGroup (PHM), and Toll Brothers (TOL) Buy-from-Neutral upgrades, and moves Meritage Homes (MTH) and Ryland (RYL) to Buy from Sell.

St. Jude Medical (STJ): Goldman Sachs gives the medical device maker a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Louisiana-Pacific (LPX): LPX is lifted to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.

Magna International (MGA): Shares are upgraded to Hold from Sell at Société Générale.

McDermott International (MDR): JPMorgan moves the energy company to Overweight from Neutral.

Medivation (MDVN): The stock is added to Citigroup's list of Top Picks.

NetSuite (N): The tech stock is added to Goldman's list of Conviction Buys.

Powell Industries (POWL): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Kansas City Capital Associates, whose target is $42. Operating margins are seen as gradually improving, and have the potential to approach the 8-9% area within a couple of years.

Teradata (TDC): Barclays takes the tech stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Ultimate Software (ULTI): Shares are upgraded 180 degrees, to Buy from Sell at Goldman.

US Airways (LCC): LCC is lifted to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee, which cites lower fuel prices, stronger domestic yields, and acquisition opportunities. Its objective is $18.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): VRTX is now Overweight from Neutral at JP Morgan, sending shares up before the opening bell.

Yandex (YNDX): The stock is upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at HSBC Securities.


A123 Systems (AONE): AONE is downgraded to Sell from Hold at Craig Hallum.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBVA): Shares of the Spanish financial firm are slumping in Madrid this morning after Société Générale slashed it to Sell from Hold. "At 0.7 times price-to-book-value 2012 earnings, Spanish banks are trading at a huge and what we consider as unjustified premium to [peers]", the analysts wrote in a note.

Dole Food (DOLE): DOLE is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Auriga.

Jetblue Airways (JBLU): The stock is now Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee.

Nokia (NOK): The telecom firm is slashed to Sell from Hold at SocGen.

Post Properties (PPS): PPS is now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Rotech Healthcare (ROHI): The microcap stock gets cut to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Synchronoss Technologies (SNCR): Shares are removed from the Conviction Buy List at Goldman.

Symantec (SYMC): SYMC is now Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Tower Group (TWGP): TWGP is taken to Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital, which trims its price target by $4 to $24. They would prefer to gain more clarity on reserve development before again recommending shares.

WGL Holdings (WGL): Shares are downgraded to Long-term Buy from Buy at Hilliard Lyons.
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