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Stock Upgrades: Check Into Starwood Hotels


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Iowa futures firm Peregrine Financial went walkabout with $200 million of customer funds in the sort of business scandal the heartland hasn't seen since those adorable Beardstown Ladies were revealed to be full of beans. Benchmark 10-year bonds had their best run since the end of January as investors flocked to the safety of US debt, something you could have had long odds against when US debt was downgraded in August.

JPMorgan (JPM), clearly gluttonous for punishment after unveiling earnings on Friday, January 13th and Friday, April 13th, opted to announce a $5.8 billion trading loss on Friday, July 13th. No matter - its stock surged 6.4% to best all blue chips on the week. Fellow Dow member Merck (MRK), which once had three separate analyst ratings at a single firm in a single day, jumped 4.7% to a four-year high after scoring two upgrades in 48 hours.

Earnings season kicks into high gear this week with over 200 companies due to report Q2 results. Today's releases are expected to include Charles Schwab (SCHW), Citigroup (C), and Gannett (GCI).

Anadarko Petroleum (APC): APC is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

BASF AG (BASFY): The German chemical giant gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

Brinker International (EAT): Piper Jaffray upgrades the fast food firm to Neutral from Underweight.

Cheesecake Factory (CAKE): CAKE is now Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs.

Echo Global Logistics (ECHO): Shares are moved to Overweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Mountain Province Diamonds (MDM): The stock is raised to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets.

Qualcomm (QCOM): Société Générale hoists the tech firm to Hold from Sell, sending shares up ahead of the opening bell.

Royal DSM N.V. (RDSMY): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

Sirius XM Radio (SIRI): The home of "shock jock" Howard Stern is upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight by Barclays.

Starwood Hotels (HOT): The accommodation outfit gets boosted to Buy from Hold at MKM Partners, which also takes its target up by $5 to $65. Positives include increased share buyback activity and a compelling valuation.

WNS Holdings (WNS): The business services company is upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer, whose target is $12.50.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: GE All Out of Juice? and New Stock Coverage: Phillips 66 on Route to Riches.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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