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Lehman Brothers

upgraded seven oil contract drillers this morning on expectations of increased interest in drilling, rising earnings due to greater oil demand and this year's rebound in oil prices. Lehman also cited a recent correction in a number of these stocks as motivation for the upgrade; most of these stocks have lost at least 20% of their value in recent weeks.

Lehman upgraded the following six companies to a buy rating:

Pride International

(PDE)

,

ENSCO

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,

Global Marine

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,

Nabors Industries

(NBR)

,

Noble Drilling

(NE)

, and

Santa Fe International

(SDC)

.

All of the stocks previously had an outperform rating, save Pride, which had a neutral rating. The brokerage also upgraded

Marine Drilling

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to outperform from neutral.

Upgrades

How's this for an odd rating?

W.R. Hambrecht

has lowered its rating on

About.com

(BOUT)

, after the company announced it would be purchased by

Primedia

(PRM)

, to "arbitrage positive" from strong buy.

Chase Manhattan

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: UP to buy from market perform at

Deutche Banc Alex. Brown

.

Commerce Group

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: UP to buy from hold at

Credit Suisse First Boston

.

Xilinx

(XLNX)

:

Merrill Lynch

added the chipmaker to its "Focus 1" list.

Mercury General

(MCY)

: UP to strong buy from neutral at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

.

Continental

(CAL)

: UP to BUY from outperform at

Salomon Smith Barney

.

Downgrades

Federal Express

(FDX)

: DOWN to outperform from buy at Salomon Smith Barney.

UAL

(UAL)

: DOWN to outperform from buy at Salomon Smith Barney.

Harcourt General

(H)

: DOWN to market perform from strong buy at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown.

Quaker Oats

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: DOWN to hold from buy at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Crestline Capital

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: DOWN to market perform from buy at DB Alex. Brown.

AGCO

(AG)

: DOWN to hold from buy at CSFB.

Power One

(PWER)

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at

Thomas Weisel

.

Initiations

Partner Communications

(PTNR)

: NEW buy at Lehman Brothers; price target: $12.

Molex

(MOLXA)

: NEW outperform at Lehman Brothers; price target: $50.

Brocade Communications

(BRCD)

: NEW buy at Merrill Lynch; price target $250.

Commerce Bancorp

(CBH)

: NEW intermediate-term neutral and long-term buy at Merrill Lynch.

Human Genome Sciences

(HGSI)

: RESUMED COVERAGE with a buy at CSFB; price target: $113.

Research in Motion

(RIMM)

: RESUMED COVERAGE with a buy at CSFB.

Time Warner Telecom

(TWTC)

: NEW buy at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.