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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.

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


(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report

received good news last week when three analysts confirmed their high opinions of Apple's stock. Ben Reitzes of


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


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


(VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report


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.

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Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)

Fresh off the purchase of tech company 3Par,


(HPQ) - Get HP Inc. Report

is in the news again after announcing the proposed purchase of



, 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) - Get Las Vegas Sands Corp. Report

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


(LOW) - Get Lowe's Companies, Inc. Report

was pleased to hear that

Goldman Sachs

had upped their rating of the retailer from neutral to buy at the end of August.

Goldman's reason for the upgrade was Lowe's improved margins despite a time when "many retailers are likely to experience decelerating growth." After the news the stock gained +2% in the premarkets. The retail stock has gained +10.2% over the past month.

Along with the buy recommendation, Goldman estimated that the retailer's EPS would jump 18% in the third quarter and 31% in the fourth quarter. Lowe's will release its earnings report on Nov. 15.

Wal-Mart (WMT)

Despite consumer spending being down,


has announced that it will maintain its buy rating of


(WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report

. They have also reiterated their price target of $64, for the retail stock.


Wal-Mart is intensely focused on fixing the mistakes made in the U.S. over the past two quarters by adding inventory back to the assortment, reinstating Action Alley, and returning to an EDLP pricing strategy. The company's outlook for 2H10 is cautious as the health of its core customer has not improved. However, correcting the company-specific issues at Wal-Mart U.S. should yield topline improvement in 2H10, and management's emphasis on the productivity loop gives us confidence that WMT can make our 2010 EPS estimate of $4.06," Citi experts announced.

Wal-Mart will release its earnings report on Nov. 16, and shareholders will discover if Citi's recommendation holds true.

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