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Upgrades & Downgrades: Bulls Run on Dunkin'


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Zeus, the Greek god of thunder, was angry yesterday, as France's freshly sworn-in president can attest to after a pitch-perfect metaphor for Europe's fiscal crisis. Après Athens, le déluge? Storm clouds, economic and otherwise, sent the Dow (^DJI) down for a ninth day in 10, as the Cradle of Democracy remained curiously unable to form a government. (And Avon (AVP), the worst of all 500 stocks in the S&P (^GSPC), is in no position to put lipstick on any PIIGS after the cosmetics company nosedived 9.74%.) The euro fell to its lowest level since January and, on a day dedicated to the oilmen of Dallas, petroleum plunged to a new 2012 trough. No worries J.R. - that bath is likely just a bad dream. Homebuilder sentiment hit a five-year high but all's not well over at the House of Morgan (JPM), where Jamie Dimon faced awkward questions about a $2 billion trading loss. The CEO was once feted for buying Bear Stearns for less than David Beckham cost. Yet yesterday, while the bank's contentious shareholder meeting was taking place, Becks was parading an impressive return on investment with Obama at the White House, so who's laughing now? Meanwhile the president, an avowed critic of fat cats, reported net worth of $8.27 million, including a private client checking account at…JPMorgan.

Elsewhere General Motors (GM) unfriended Facebook but Penthouse magazine publisher FriendFinder (FFN) has all the acquaintances it can handle after surging 20.65%. American Science & Engineering (ASEI), which makes x-ray equipment for security inspections such as at airports, tumbled 23.96%. No comment from Henry Kissinger on that, though the Beijing expert will be troubled to see China's ownership of our economy increase yet again. In analyst action, one Wall Street researcher disliked McDonald's (MCD) as much as they do in Athens but, adding insult to injury for the beleaguered country, the stock actually ended up on an otherwise dire day. And a US-Columbia free trade agreement took effect at midnight, though the Secret Service and certain ladies of the night, showing commendable entrepreneurial spirit, got in on the act several weeks ago. Today's financial events include the release, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, of minutes from the FOMC's April 24-25 policy meeting. On the corporate front, expect quarterly earnings announcements out of Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Chico's FAS (CHS), Deere (DE), Hot Topic (HOTT), Jack in the Box (JACK), Limited Brands (LTD), NetEase (NTES), Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB), Staples (SPLS), and Target (TGT).


Aastrom Biosciences (ASTM): The small cap is begun with a Strong Buy at Ascendiant Capital Markets, whose price objective is $4.25. They say it is one of the best positioned, pure play regenerative medicine companies.

LSI Logic (LSI): LSI is launched at an Outperform by Pacific Crest.

Midstates Petroleum (MPO): Suntrust starts Buy rated research on MPO.

Patriot Coal (PCX): PCX, downgraded elsewhere this morning, is picked up with an Underperform at Imperial Capital, whose target price is $2.50. The broker believes its market cap is too high given adjusted leverage and dilution potential.

ReachLocal (RLOC): Shares are initiated with an Outperform and $12 target Outperform at Imperial Capital.

Solazyme (SZYM): The stock is a new Outperform at Credit Suisse.


Cisco Systems (CSCO): The router and networking company, a key Dow component, is upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Dunkin' Brands (DNKN): Shares are boosted to Buy from Hold at Argus, which says it has solid domestic and international growth opportunities and a highly profitable franchise business.

PepsiCo (PEP): The stock is upgraded to Outperform from Underperform at Crédit Agricole.

Akamai Technologies (AKAM): AKAM is now Neutral from Sell at Citigroup.

Barclays (BCS): UBS boosts the British bank to Buy from Neutral.

Crédit Agricole (CRARY): The French financial firm is upgraded to Buy from Hold at competitor Société Générale.

Fossil (FOSL): Shares are boosted to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup, sending it up ahead of the opening bell.

HollySys (HOLI): Roth Capital hoists HOLI to Buy from Neutral.

Infineon (IFNNY): Société Générale takes the tech stock to Hold from Sell.

PetroChina (PTR): The equity gets increased to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Oil services: Atwood Oceanics (ATW), Ensco (ESV), Noble Corp (NE), and Rowan Companies (RDC) are all raised to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie, which takes Transocean (RIG) to Neutral from Underperform.

SandRidge Energy (SD): Shares are upgraded to Hold from Sell at Canaccord Genuity.

SeaDrill Limited (SDRL): The company is now Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Simpson Manufacturing (SSD): SSD is raised to Neutral from Underperform at Robert W. Baird.

Sina Corp (SINA): Barclays boosts the Chinese Internet outfit to Overweight from Equal Weight.

TE Connectivity (TE): TE is taken to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Telecom Italia (TI): Goldman Sachs gives the stock a Neutral-from-Sell increase.

Weatherford (WFT): JPMorgan moves the energy outfit to Overweight from Neutral.

Windstream (WIN): WIN is boosted to Buy from Hold at Stifel Nicolaus, whose objective is $11. Catalysts include a dividend yield that can support higher valuations.


Aetna (AET): AET gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus Argus due to a negative outlook for its medical utilization and cost trend, and ultimately for its ability to grow margins and earnings.

Baker Hughes (BHI): Shares are now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Glencore (GLNCY): The stock gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Globus Maritime (GLBS): GLBS is now Hold from Buy with Wunderlich, which takes its target to $4.50 from $8.

Hudson City Bancorp (HCBK): The regional bank is reduced to Neutral from Buy at Compass Point.

Patriot Coal (PCX): FBR Capital cuts the commodity company to Perform from Outperform.

Semiconductor equipment: KLA-Tencor (KLAC), Novellus (NVLS), and Lam Research (LRCX) are all lowered to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan

Xstrata (XSRAF): The stock is lower in London this morning after UBS cut it to Neutral from Buy amid an "increasingly uncertain macro environment."
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