- Medtronic (MDT) to buy from neutral and 1-800-Flowers.com (FLWS) to neutral from sell at Goldman.
- CarMax (KMX) to outperform from perform at Oppenheimer.
- Points International (PTSEF) to buy from neutral at Merriman.
- Nokia (NOK) to market perform from underperform at Morgan Keegan.
- Amdocs (DOX) to overweight from equal weight at Barclays.
- Western Alliance (WAL) to outperform from sector perform at RBC Capital.
- Carbo Ceramics (CRR) to outperform from market perform at BMO Capital.
- Rackspace (RAX) to buy from hold at Benchmark Co.
- Brinker (EAT) to equal weight from underweight at Morgan Stanley.
- Intel (INTC) was upgraded to overweight from equal weight and Autodesk (ADSK) to equal weight from underweight at Morgan Stanley.
- Citigroup upgraded Blackrock (BLK) to buy from hold.
- 99c Only Stores (NDN) was upgraded to buy from hold at Deutsche Bank.
- PetSmart (PETM) was upgraded to overweight from equal weight at Barclays.
- Piper Jaffray upgraded Ruth's Hospitality (RUTH) and Morton's Restaurant (MRT) to overweight from neutral.
- BioMed Realty (BMR) was upgraded to market perform from underperform at FBR Capital.
- Wells Fargo upgraded Piedmont (PDM) to market perform from underperform.
- Goldman upgraded Citigroup (C) to conviction buy from buy, Principal Financial (PFG) to buy from neutral, and Stancorp Financial (SFG) and Hartford Financial (HIG) to neutral from sell.
- JetBlue (JBLU) was upgraded to overweight from neutral at JPMorgan.
- Barclays upgraded Royal Caribbean (RCL) and Carnival (CCL) upgraded to overweight from equal weight.
- Hollysys Automation (HOLI) was upgraded to buy from hold at Roth Capital.
- RBC Capital upgraded Alliance Data Systems (ADS) to outperform from sector perform.
- RRI Energy (RRI) was upgraded to buy from hold at Citigroup.
Option traders appear to be setting up for a bullish move on Cobalt International Energy, Inc. (CIE). Traders plowed into 1,553 new call option contracts -- 4.65 times the average volume -- on the stock on Monday. And we know that traders were eager to get into this trade because 98% of the trades came in on the ask price.
Cobalt just bounced up off of support at $7. The stock closed Monday at $8.25, down 1.32% during the past month.
- Morgan Keegan upgraded Copano Energy (CPNO) to Outperform from Market Perform based on the $300M capital infusion it received from TPG Capital.
- Wells Fargo upgraded SunTrust (STI) to Market Perform from Underperform following the company's Q2 results citing improving credit quality trends and valuation.
- UBS upgraded Baidu (BIDU) to Buy from Neutral based on solid fundamentals following the strong Q2 report and guidance and valuation. The firm raised its price target to $92 from $69.
- Baxter (BAX) was upgraded to Conviction Buy from Neutral at Goldman.
- JetBlue (JBLU) was upgraded to Buy from Hold at Soleil.
- Penn Virginia GP (PVG) was upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.
- Piper Jaffray downgraded Beckman Coulter (BEC) to Neutral from Overweight following the company's weaker than expected Q2 results and lowered guidance. The firm lowered its target for shares to $60 from $74. Shares were also downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies and to Neutral from outperform at Baird following the company's reduced guidance.
- Keefe Bruyette cut AmeriCredit (ACF) to Market Perform from Outperform following the acquisition by General Motors (GM, MTLQQ).
- FBR Capital downgraded SunTrust (STI) to Market Perform from Outperform and lowered its price target to $27 from $34. The analyst believes larger banks are better positioned than regionals due to greater prospects of reserve releases.
- Travelers (TRV) was downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.
- Lender Processing (LPS) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman.
- Penn Virginia Resource (PVR) was downgraded to Sector Perform at RBC Capital.
- ThinkEquity assumed coverage of SanDisk (SNDK) with a Buy rating.
- Macquarie initiated Allergan (AGN) with an Outperform rating and $75 price target.
- Macquarie also initiated Cooper Companies (COO) with an Outperform rating and $45 price target.
- NCR Corp (NCR) was initiated with a Hold rating at KeyBanc.
- CryoLife (CRY) was started at Benchmark Co. with a Buy rating and $8 target.
- China New Borun (BORN) was initiated with an Overweight rating and $7.40 target at Piper Jaffray.
- Keefe Bruyette upgraded East West Bancorp (EWBC) to outperform from market perform after the company acquired assets from Washington First International Bank. The firm has a $21 price target for shares.
- Piper Jaffray upgraded Amylin (AMLN) to overweight from neutral, citing valuation and Bydureon's profile. The firm maintains a $26 price target for shares.
- Soleil upgraded MGM Mirage (MGM) to hold from sell, citing signs of stabilization in Vegas and valuation. The firm upped its target for shares to $13 from $11.10.
- T. Rowe Price (TROW) was upgraded to outperform from market perform at FBR Capital.
- JetBlue (JBLU) was upgraded to buy from neutral at BofA/Merrill.
- NetEase.com (NTES) was upgraded to buy from hold at Standpoint Research.
The fact that there hasn't been any action in a while doesn't mean there isn't room for more. Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Airlines (DAL), says that the airline industry could consolidate further -- not exactly a shock in an industry that is known for universal financial suffering. He notes, "If a transaction were to occur, economics should prevail."
The only concern, of course, is whether the Obama administration would sign off on any future deals. Anderson believes, "I think the case can be made ultimately, but it remains to be seen what this administration's take will be."
With close to 60 million users, Twitter is a force corporate marketing departments just can't ignore. The reach offered by this microblogging platform is profound, and skipping it means yielding digital turf to the competition.
Yet, as the country's major brands have flocked to Twitter, not all have mastered it. Some merely push headlines and deals, while others have used it as a way to open a dialogue with their customers, build relationships and ultimately grow their businesses. A study by The Big Money sought to determine the dozen companies that are mastering Twitter and why they are the masters.
For years, it's been evident that smaller airlines have had an operating advantage, particularly when they use less expensive airports. They've been able to post better numbers as a result, and in the current travel slump, they've outperformed the larger carriers. Well, they've also picked up a considerable amount of market share.
According to a report by USA Today, low cost carriers now have 30% of the market in the United States. Price-sensitive consumers are turning to cheaper alternatives, even if it means (for fliers with elite status) giving up the perks they've earned through years of customer loyalty.
- RBC Capital upgraded Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) to Outperform from Sector Perform and said the company has attractive franchise value and earnings power, and is nearing the start of a credit driven earnings recovery. The firm raised its target to $22 from $19.
- Oppenheimer assumed coverage of Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) and upgraded shares to Outperform from Perform. The firm expects Amazon's revenue growth to re-accelerate over the next several quarters, making consensus estimates too conservative. Opco set a $130 price target on the stock.
- Barclays upgraded Ford (NYSE: F) to Equal Weight from Underweight and believes the company will report Q3 results above the Street. The firm raised its Q3 EPS estimate to 7 cents from 16 cents, vs. consensus of 21 cents, and its price target to $8 from $7.
- Charles River Labs (NYSE: CRL) was upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman.
- Briggs & Stratton (NYSE: BGG) was upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Baird.
- Sealed Air (NYSE: SEE) was upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays.
Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV), the Dallas-based low-cost air carrier, is scheduled to discuss its third quarter 2009 financial results in a conference call Thursday at 11:30 AM ET hosted by CEO Gary Kelly and CFO Laura Wright. You can catch the live webcast on the company's website.
During the three months that ended in September, Southwest began service to Boston Logan, prepared a bid to acquire Frontier Airlines, and declared its 132nd consecutive quarterly dividend. But analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect the company to report that earnings fell from 9 cents per share a year ago to a penny per share. Sales for the quarter are expected to be 9.7% lower to $2.6 billion.
- JPMorgan upgraded Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX) and Goldcorp (NYSE: GG) to Overweight from Neutral following its gold valuation analysis. The firm set a $54 price target on Barrick shares and a $47 price target on Goldcorp shares.
- Thomas Weisel upgraded EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) to Overweight from Market Weight and raised its target to $24 from $15, citing the company's improving end market demand, competitive position, and valuation.
- Barclays upgraded AMR Corp. (NYSE: AMR) to Overweight from Equal Weight, citing the company's improved liquidity position and what they believe to be the beginning of a multi-year profit cycle for the sector. Despite the upgrade, the firm lowered its target to $14 from $20.
- Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) was upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo.
- Toshiba (OTC: TOSBF) was upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.
- Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) was upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBS.
Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO). Short price on May 6, 2009: $344.72. Stopped out for loss at $460. Dead wrong with this one: can't win them all. The Post's education segment has grown revenue enough to offset the declines at the signature print newspaper. A modest U.S. recovery will continue to weigh on the print newspaper side's revenue and earnings, but cost cuts and the development of its online unit mean WPO will be a metro daily survivor after the news/media sector's Internet-compelled transformation.
August brought more misery to the airline industry in the United States. Seven of the country's nine largest carriers saw traffic drop, with only Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) and JetBlue Airways Corp (NASDAQ: JBLU) bucking the trend. The continued upward climb of unemployment, tighter corporate budgets and sluggish demand for leisure travel has resulted in fewer passengers in seats.
JetBue was the only carrier not to report a drop in available seat miles (ASMs), the primary measure of airline productivity. Load factors, however, which indicate how full a plane is, tended to be higher, largely a result of flights that have been cut in an effort to reduce costs.
- FBR Capital upgraded Frontline (NYSE: FRO) to Market Perform from Underperform to reflect the company's above-average day rates and alleviated near-term financing pressures. The firm raised its target on shares to $23 from $14.
- Baird upgraded Varian Medical (NASDAQ: VARI) to Outperform from Neutral and said checks at ESTRO meeting indicate European radiation therapy market demand will remain "respectable" in 2010 and that launch of Unique could drive incremental demand in developing markets. The firm has a $49 target on shares.
- Goldman believes GameStop (NYSE: GME) Street expectations are beatable and valuation is attractive. The firm upgraded shares to Conviction Buy from Neutral and has a $28 target.
- Borg-Warner (NYSE: BWA) was upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo.
- KKR Financial (NYSE: KFN) was upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at JMP Securities.
- Cathay Pacific (OTC: CPCAY) was upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.