CHANGE IN RATINGS
upgraded at Cowen to Outperform. Company posted strong August sales, and should be able to deliver 15% earnings growth.
American Financial Group
upgraded at Credit Suisse to Outperform from Neutral based on valuation. Cites company has improved profitability and deleveraged its balance sheet. Lowered target price to $33 from $38.
upgraded at Credit Suisse to Neutral from Underperform based on margin expansion opportunities and very strong farm cycle. Raised target price to $46 from $17.
downgraded at Goldman to Sell from Neutral due to valuation. Although management has made attractive moves to lower costs and invest in pipeline, valuation continues to run ahead of fundamentals. Price target at $30.
downgraded at Bernstein from Outperform to Market Perform. Stock lacks potential catalysts, following the E&P sale and buybacks. $96 price target.
upgraded at Deutsche Bank from Hold to Buy. $68 price target. Company should be able to navigate through a Medicare price cut better than previously thought. Company also has the capital to make accretive acquisitions or buy back stock.
downgraded at Wachovia from Outperform to Market Perform. Late-stage pipeline news is already priced into the stock.
downgraded at Merrill Lynch from Neutral to Sell. Valuation call, as the stock is up 88% for the year.
upgraded at Goldman Sachs to Neutral from Sell following 27% decline over past 11 months. Fundamental challenges are now priced into shares, including looming patent expirations and uncertain pipeline catalysts. Price target lowered to $42 from $45.
Heidrick & Struggles
downgraded at Merrill Lynch from Buy to Sell. Earnings also cut, because of lower expected business growth in the US.
upgraded at Merrill from Neutral to Buy. Company would be one of the least affected by a US recession, which is already priced into the stock.
downgraded at Deutsche Bank from Buy to Hold. Valuation call, based on a $58 price target. Macro environment could also become more challenging in the coming quarters.
upgraded at Merrill Lynch from Sell to Neutral. Valuation call, even though considerable earnings risk remains.
downgraded at Merrill from Neutral to Sell. Estimates also cut, to reflect the threat of a US recession.
downgraded at Jefferies to Hold rating from Buy. Price target and 2008 EPS estimates hold at $37 and $2.45, respectively.
Kansas City Southern
upgraded at UBS to Buy rating from Neutral. However, price target and FY 2008 EPS estimates lowered to $1.81 from $1.86 and $41 from $40, respectively.
downgraded at Merrill from Buy to Neutral. Estimates also cut, because of lower expected US business growth.
upgraded at Goldman Sachs to Neutral from Sell based on book value growth. Shares have traded at a premium to the Non-Life Insurance sector for years now, and Goldman believes this premium will remain. Price target at $530.
Marsh & McLennan
coverage reinstated at Goldman with a Sell rating. Remain concerned over struggles within brokerage operations and potential for future earnings disappointments. Expect stock to at best trade sideways over next 12 months. Price target at $25.
Research in Motion
( RIMM) downgraded at Bear Stearns downgraded from Outperform to Peer Perform. Valuation call, based on the new $81 price target. Macro risks are also rising.
( TMA) upgraded at Friedman, Billings Ramsey from Underperform to Outperform. Recent capital injection solidified liquidity, and net interest margin should move back over 1% by the end of the year. $14 price target.
upgraded at Deutsche Bank from Hold to Buy. $52 price target. Stock has 20% upside potential, as its revenue is not tied to the overall economy and the company should be able to deliver consistent earnings growth.
STOCK COMMENTS / EPS CHANGES
numbers lowered at UBS. Price target slashed to $25 from $40 and FY 2008 EPS estimates dips to $0.68 from $1.63. Reiterates Neutral rating.
2008 estimates raised at Credit Suisse to $9.50 from $9.20 based on increased confidence in farm. Raised target price to $160 from $141.
numbers lowered at Jefferies. Price target drops to $43 from $51.50 and FY 2008 EPS estimates dips to $3.11 from $3.14. Reiterates Hold rating.
numbers lowered at UBS. Price target slashed to $69 from $87, while FY 2008 EPS estimates hold at $3.90. Reiterates Buy rating.
( PCR) numbers lowered at UBS. Price target drops to $65 from $71 and FY 2008 EPS estimates dips to $3.00 from $3.25. Reiterates Neutral rating.
called Top Pick at Bear Stearn. $30 price target. Stock has several potential catalysts, and will operate a more conservative model over the next couple of years.