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Microsoft Downplays Facebook Rumors

Editor's note: In this feature from Stockpickr, we highlight lists of stocks that have been upgraded by analysts, are experiencing activist situations or some other market-moving events.

Rumors of the Day: Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer played down speculation it is interested in buying a stake in the privately held social networking site Facebook, according to Bloomberg. While Ballmer said Microsoft is "delighted" to partner with Facebook on advertising sales, "everything else" is just "idle speculation." Microsoft was flat at $29.77.

Today's Hot List: Canada's TD Bank (TD) acquired Commerce Bancorp (CBH) for $8.5 billion in cash and stock. Under the agreement, Commerce shareholders will receive 0.4142 TD common shares and $10.50 in cash in exchange for each common share of Commerce, based on Commerce's roughly $42 per share closing price on Oct. 1. Commerce shares slipped 17 cents to $39.44.

Palm (PALM) beat first-quarter estimates by a penny, reporting earnings of 9 cents a share. The company reported revenue of $360.8 million, vs. the consensus of $360.3 million. The company sees second-quarter earnings of between 6 cents a share and 8 cents a share, compared to the consensus of 10 cents a share. The handheld device maker expects second-quarter revenue of between $370 million and $380 million, vs. Wall Street's expectations of $413.5 million. Shares are down 57 cents to $15.43.

Analyst Downgrades: Deutsche Bank downgraded CBS (CBS) to hold from buy. The bank cited soft ratings trends and poor local ad growth. Deutsche Bank lowered its price target to $33. Shares fell 22 cents at $30.84.

Analyst Upgrades: Wachovia upgraded biotech concern PDL Biopharma (PDLI) to outperform from market perform. CEO Mark McDade is stepping down under pressure and the company is for sale. The bank said the stock could command $24 to $25 a share. Shares surged $1.85, or 8.7%, to $23.22.

Latest Activist Situations: In an amended regulatory filing, Strongbow Capital said discount retailer Duckwall-ALCO Stores (DUCK) should expand the size of its board by one member and appoint Royce Winsten to fill the newly created position. It also said the company should create an executive committee of the board, which would be authorized to exercise all the powers and authority of the board in managing the company. The firm, which owns 14.2% of Duckwall, said the executive committee would oversee a reduction in average inventory levels and losses from shrinkage. Duckwall was sinking 55 cents at $36.19.

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