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Stock Upgrades: Wal-Mart Still a Bargain


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Coach (COH) made luxury bag ladies of us all by imploding 18.57% in its single worst showing since September 17, 2001. Arch capitalist Maggie Thatcher will have popped the CEO over the head with one of her iconic offerings for that, but the greengrocer's daughter will be happier with Fresh Market (TFM) having hit a new high with its 4.92% gain.

Candle maker Blyth (BTH) jumped 3.04%. Its employees, based in tony Greenwich Connecticut, doesn't really need the profits, but 700 million citizens in India could certainly use the light. Microsoft (MSFT) has announced a revamp of Hotmail and Aol Inc (AOL), home of 'You've got mail,' advanced 1.37% to an all-time peak. (The check would ordinarily be in the mail but the US Postal Service is due to default for the first time ever today.)

Today in economics, June construction spending and the Institute for Supply Management's July manufacturing index are each released at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, while the Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting at 2:15 p.m. In earnings activity, Avon (AVP), BMW (BAMXY), Catamaran (CTRX), Harley-Davidson (HOG), MasterCard (MA), Société Générale (SCGLY), and Time Warner (TWX) are all due to report results.

Aegion (AEGN): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Ladenbur, which has a $23 target price. Catalysts include improving trends following the company's Q2 results.

Aixtron (AIXG): Shares are now Neutral from Underweight at HSBC.

Celadon Group (CGI): The company is upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James.

First Horizon (FHN): Shares are now Neutral from Sell at Compass Point.

Louisiana Pacific (LPX): LPX is lifted to Market Perform from Underperform by BMO Capital due to a more favorable panel price forecast.

Norsk Hydro (NHYDY): Goldman Sachs gives the Oslo energy outfit a Neutral-from-Sell boost.

RTI Biologics (RTIX): Roth Capital raises RTIX to Buy from Neutral.

Tower Group (TWGP): Shares are taken to Outperform from Perform at FBR Capital, whose target is $24.

Wal-Mart (WMT): Last month's best blue chip with a 6.76% increase is upgraded to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank. The target is also taken up, to $68 from $55, amid improving fundamentals.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Boeing Stuck in Holding Pattern and Stock Downgrades: Oil's Not Well at BP.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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