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Stock Upgrades: No More Tears for Johnson & Johnson


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Bourses managed to shrug off more bad news from Spain, where 18 banks were downgraded and Madrid's 10-year bond hit highest level since the EU came into effect. But, to quote Hemingway's famous novel of the Spanish Civil War, ask not for whom the bell tolls, for it also tolls for thee, America - quite literally, in the case of New York. Cyprus, whose entire country recently experienced a blackout, will be the next to ask for a bailout. If only they'd invested in shares of First Solar (FSLR), which jumped 21.25% to top the S&P 500 Index (^GSPC) by a mile.

Erstwhile oilman J.R. Ewing, who returns to our screens tonight after a generation away, wisely cottoned on to solar power some time ago. A smart move, what with gasoline futures having just finished at their lowest level of the year and crude at an eight-month low. Soda drink stock Reed's Inc (REED) rose 7.12% and Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) gained 2.83% to an all-time high, much to the disgust of Mayor Bloomberg. FactSet Resarch (FDS), which provides earnings estimates to the financial community, tumbled 12.31%, the company's worst day in 11 years coming after it fell far short of…earnings estimates.

Today in economics, analysts expect an essentially unchanged figure for April business inventories at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Culp Inc (CFI), Korn/Ferry International (KFY), and Luby's (LUB) are all due to report results.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Shares of the Dow member are up before the bell on a triple boost. It is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan, whose price objective is $74, to Buy from Hold at Jefferies, and to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

E*TRADE (ETFC): Shares are upgraded to Hold from Sell at BGB Securities, which cites an impressive valuation.

Foreign banks: HSBC Holdings (HBC) and UBS AG (UBS) are each upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Fortinet (FTNT): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at UBS.

GenOn Energy (GEN): UBS gives GEN a Neutral-from-Sell increase.

Hershey Foods (HSY): Shares are added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs.

Hill-Rom (HRC): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch hoists HRC to Neutral from Underperform.

LaFarge (LFRGY): Société Générale lifts the stock to Buy from Hold.

Navistar (NAV): NAV is now Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan, which cites a balanced risk/reward profile. Its target price is $30.

Shire plc (SHPGY): Leerink Swann lifts the stock to Outperform from Market Perform.

Tesco (TSCDY): The British grocer gets upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

Venoco (VQ): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel Nicolaus, whose target is $12.50.

Vivendi (VIVEF): The company is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Zynga (ZNGA): Shares, which slumped yesterday, are up before the bell after Evercore Partners upgrades it to Equal-weight from Underweight on Tuesday's pullback. It expects new game releases at the Zynga Unleashed event later this month.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: PetSmart Is Top Dog and Stock Downgrades: Expedia Sent to Siberia.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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