Change in Ratings

Alpharma

(ALO) - Get Report

was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at Merrill Lynch. $32 price target. Stock is discounting modest growth assumptions across the board for the company's different business lines.

Cheesecake Factory

(CAKE) - Get Report

was downgraded from Outperform to Peer Perform at Bear Stearns. Company cut its second-quarter guidance as comp store sales growth is decelerating.

Morgan Stanley upgrades

CoStar Group

(CSGP) - Get Report

from equalweight to overweight and raises price target from $52 to $66.

Dresser-Rand

(DRC)

downgraded to Neutral rating from Buy at UBS. Full-year 2008 EPS estimates hold at $2.25, but price raised to $43.

Piper Jaffray is downgrading

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

to Market Perform from Outperform. Current valuation accurately reflects the company's growth. The retail market has slowed to a mid-single-digit rate. $44 price target.

Morgan Stanley initiates coverage of

Lamar Advertising

(LAMR) - Get Report

with an overweight rating and $77 price target.

Goldman is downgrading

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

to Neutral from Buy based on balanced risk/reward following recent strong run by shares. See improved product cycle and margins as priced into stock. Price target at $56.

Citigroup is downgrading

Prudential

(PRU) - Get Report

to Hold. The company presents low risk. Needs to effectively grow into its share valuation. $110 price target.

Baird is upgrading

Symantec

(SYMC) - Get Report

to Outperform. Challenges associated with the assimilation of Veritas are behind the company. Current EPS guidance does not take into consideration possible share repurchase and conservatively assumes a 5% stronger dollar. $25 price target.

United Auto Group

(UAG) - Get Report

was upgraded from Peer Perform to Outperform at Bear Stearns. Company should benefit as the exclusive seller of DCX's new smart car, beginning in January. Current valuation also looks compelling.

Stock Comments/EPS Changes

Credit Suisse is raising its target price on

Diamond Offshore

(DO) - Get Report

to $120 from $107. Sees several catalysts -- including stronger demand in Asia-Pacific floater market -- following takeaway with management. Maintained Outperform rating.

Goldman is upping its target on

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

to $109 from $94 after company posted record investment banking backlogs for the third quarter. Expect continued strong performance during the rest of the year, with diverse business mix and increasing backlog driving performance. Maintained Buy rating.