Goldman Sachs

upgraded its rating on power-plant operator

PPL

(PPL) - Get Report

to its recommended list and issued positive comments on three other utilities companies that are moving from a regulated business to a more independent business.

PPL was given a price target of $55. Goldman cited rapid growth in the nonregulated utilities business as an expectation of continued strong performance in the stock, which closed at $38.81 yesterday. This morning, the stock was trading up $1.75, or 4.7%, to $40.56. Goldman said the "transitioning" growth group is expected to provide returns of 45% to 50% over the next 12 months.

"The best total return prospects under the transitioning-growth theme are in four stocks, including

Edison International

(EIX) - Get Report

, Pacific Electric & Gas

(PCG) - Get Report

, and

Constellation Energy Group

( CEG) and PPL," analyst Jonathan Raleigh said in the Goldman note.

After

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

held a midquarter conference call, analysts remain generally positive on the stock.

Lehman Brothers

,

Credit Suisse First Boston

and

UBS Warburg

affirmed their existing ratings.

Banc of America Securities

cut the target price on the stock to $130 from $145, but said the move reflects weakness in technology stocks, rather than specific problems with the company.

Upgrades

Intrawest

( IDR): UP to buy from accumulate at

Merrill Lynch

; price target: $25.

Barnes & Noble

(BNS) - Get Report

: UP to buy from outperform at

Salomon Smith Barney

, price target $30; UP to buy from accumulate at Merrill Lynch; price target: $35.

Bergen Brunswig

(BBC) - Get Report

: UP to buy from outperform at Lehman Brothers.

Veritas Software

(VRTS) - Get Report

: price target UP to $160 from $150 at Lehman Brothers.

Downgrades

Gentex

(GNTX) - Get Report

: DOWN to accumulate from strong buy at

Prudential Securities

.

Navisite

(NAVI) - Get Report

: DOWN to accumulate from strong buy at Prudential Securities.

Kulicke & Soffa

(KLIC) - Get Report

: estimates DOWN to $1.62 from $1.68 in 2000; down to 11 cents from 25 cents in 2001 at Merrill Lynch.

Initiations

Homestore.com

(HOMS)

: NEW outperform at Salomon Smith Barney; price target: $36.

BISYS Group

( BSYS): NEW buy at CSFB; price target: $58.

Quaker Oats

( OAT): NEW market performer at Banc of America Securities.