Several

Dow

components were reaping the benefits of some positive analyst calls Monday.

Banc of America Securities raised its investment rating on drugmaker

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

to buy from market perform, citing its "increasing confidence in the company's intermediate-term pipeline."

Separately, Lehman Brothers upgraded PC maker

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

to overweight from equal weight, citing the strength of its printer business, improving fundamentals and a stabilization in demand.

Meanwhile,

Eastman Kodak

(EK)

, the world's No. 1 photography company, was upgraded to a hold from a sell rating by Deutsche Bank Securities, in light of the company's cost-cutting efforts.

As for Merck, Banc of America analyst Leonard Raffe said in a research note that "recent data presented on two pipeline products -- an HPV vaccine and Rotavirus vaccine -- are very encouraging ... furthermore, Zetia's approval this weekend was sooner than our expectation."

The upgrade follows Merck's announcement Friday night that the Food & Drug Administration approved its new cholesterol drug Zetia, a treatment it co-developed with

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

. Banc of America projected worldwide sales for Zetia to come in at $335 million in 2003 and $800 million in 2004.

Merck's shares were up 3% at $54.47 in recent trading on the

New York Stock Exchange.

Regarding Hewlett-Packard, Lehman Brothers research analyst Dan Niles said in a note to clients that "we believe quarter four is solid with printing, showing higher-than-expected revenue growth and margins." Analysts are expecting the company to post a fourth-quarter net profit of 22 cents a share on revenue of $17.32 billion, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.

Niles added, "We continue to believe U.S. corporate spending is slowly beginning to stabilize and pick up. Information technology spending will be up in the low single digits next year with the rest of the world following the lead of the U.S. by midyear."

Shares of Hewlett-Packard were up 5.3% at $15.40 on the news.

Kodak's shares, meanwhile, were up 16 cents, or 0.5%, at $34.70 following the upgrade from Deutsche Bank Securities.