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New Stock Coverage: Betting the House on Casino Companies

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Communist North Korea seems to be slowly warming to capitalism but free markets continue to go south in the West. Wall Street fell for a third straight session, the S&P 500's (^GSPC) worst spell in a month, as Spain's borrowing costs breached the 7% barrier for which there is no solution. That the country is "not Uganda" seems like the faintest praise at present. At least, as befits the best soccer team on Earth, it managed to move to goalposts once more, with an agreement reached to give the Iberian country an extra year to bring its budget deficit back in line with other EU members.

All this can-kicking continues to be good for aluminum giant Alcoa (AA), which reported better than expected revenues, and Campbell Soup, flush enough with cash to announce a $1.55 billion acquisition.

Among standout stocks Bridgepoint Education (BPI), a ludicrously misnamed "for-profit" educator, plunged 33.72%. Facebook (FB), whose founder never completed college, gained 1.39%. This amid speculation that the social networker, which has cost many people their jobs, may be about to add a job search feature. Any unemployed currently idling away their days in art house theaters are certainly on to something; Reading International (RDIB), owner of New York's beatnik Angelika Film Center, surged 19.60% to top the Nasdaq (^IXIC).

No top-tier economic data due today but expect earnings announcements out of Helen of Troy (HELE), Hi-Tech Pharmacal (HITK), Shaw Group (SHAW), Wolverine Worldwide (WWW), and Zep Inc. (ZEP).

Apollo Global Management (APO): Shares are initiated with a Buy at Argus, whose target is $16.

Casino Companies: Cantor Fitzgerald begins Buy rated coverage on Las Vegas Sands (LVS), MGM Resorts (MGM), and Wynn Resorts (WYNN), assigning respective price objectives of $57, $14, and $134. Key catalysts include growing prosperity in China and ongoing opportunities in Macau.

Financials: American Express (AXP) and Discover (DFS) are assumed with Buys at Nomua, which has a new Neutral on Capital One (COF).

Medical/Scientific Instruments: ISI Group gives Overweights to Agilent (A), PerkinElmer (PKI), ICON plc (ICLR), Thermo Fisher (TMO), and Hologic (HOLX). It assigns Underweights on Cepheid (CPHD), Charles River Labs (CRL), Mettler-Toledo (MTD), QIAGEN (QGEN) and Life Technologies (LIFE). Lastly, it rates the following Market Weight: Illumina (ILMN), Waters (WAT), Danaher (DHR), Covance (CVD), and Bruker (BRKR).

Millennial Media (MM): Shares are a new Outperform at Oppenheimer.

Newcastle Investment (NCT): Credit Suisse has a new Outperform on NCT.

Renewable Energy (REGI): The stock is initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities.

Ryanair (RYAAY): Imperial Capital rolls out Outperform rated research, and a $36 target price, on the low cost Irish carrier. The company's earnings guidance is seen as conservative and expectations are increasing for both share buybacks and a dividend.

SeaChange (SEAC): Shares are resumed with a Buy at Roth Capital.

Threshold Pharmaceuticals (THLD): The company is initiated with an Outperform at William Blair.

TiVo Inc (TIVO) Barclays begins coverage at Overweight.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Sky Falls on Tyson Foods and Stock Upgrades: Love in the Air for Southwest.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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