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5 Stocks Enjoying Upgrades Before Earnings

Stocks are in-between earnings seasons, and analyst upgrades and new price targets are rolling out. With earnings reports for the third quarter of 2010 on the horizon, here's a look at five stocks that have seen recent upgrades.

Apple (AAPL)

Tech giant Apple (AAPL) received good news last week when three analysts confirmed their high opinions of Apple's stock. Ben Reitzes of Barclays cited strong iPad sales as one reason for maintaining his $340 price target for Apple. "We continue to believe Apple's valuation is very attractive and that shares can benefit, driven by strong iPad demand, a new iPhone upgrade cycle, significant international expansion and a continuous pipeline of new innovation," Reitzes told investors.

Likewise, Maynard Um of UBS and Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray reiterated their buy recommendations for Apple. Um upped his initial price target of $340 to $350, while Munster held strong on his initial price target of $371. The Jaffray analyst claimed that Apple's target would be even higher if not for its unavailability on the Verizon (VZ) network.

With iPad and iPhone 4 sales red hot entering holiday season, Apple is garnering positive feedback from numerous analysts and that could bode well for the stock.


Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)

Fresh off the purchase of tech company 3Par, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is in the news again after announcing the proposed purchase of ArcSight (ARST), a software security company. The purchase has caused Standard & Poor's analyst Thomas Smith to restate his buy status of HPQ stock.

Hewlett-Packard will announce its earnings on Nov. 22, and Smith believes the stock will report earnings of $4.51. "We believe ArcSight's security and compliance management software would enhance HPQ's enterprise computing offerings, if the deal is completed as planned by yearend," Smith said.


Las Vegas Sands (LVS)

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) owns numerous casinos and resorts around the world, and has seen great success from its Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore. On Sept. 10, JP Morgan raised the price target for LVS from $32 to $36, reiterating its overweight status for the stock.

"Based on our checks, aggregate gaming volume in August at Marina Bay Sands showed sequential improvement over July's volume," JP Morgan officials announced last weekend. JP Morgan analysts claim that the Marina Bay Sands casino will account for 45% of the Singapore gaming market. The same experts believe that Singapore's gaming market will account for $5 billion in 2011 and as much as $5.5 billion in 2012.

A growing gaming market in Singapore and the operation of a massive casino are the main reasons why analysts are holding firm on Las Vegas Sands Corporation's overweight status.


Lowe's (LOW)

Home improvement megastore Lowe's (LOW) was pleased to hear that Goldman Sachs had upped their rating of the retailer from neutral to buy at the end of August.

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