CHANGE IN RATINGS

Arthur J. Gallagher ( AJG) upgraded at Merrill from Neutral to Buy. $27 price target. Company sports an attractive 5.3% dividend yield, and the stock is at its lowest valuation in 5 years. Brokerage margins should also stabilize with cost-cutting efforts.

Baxter International ( BAX) upgraded at Citigroup from Hold to Buy. Company should be able to grow margins in BioSciences. $69 price target.

Best Buy ( BBY) downgraded at Cowen to Neutral rating from Buy. Company cites lack of new product cycles on the horizon and the recent pop in BBY shares.

Brinker International ( EAT) downgraded at Keybanc from Hold to Underweight. Company announced poor quarterly same-store sales, and competition should remain high in 2008. $15 price target.

Federated Investors ( FII) upgraded at UBS to Buy rating from Neutral. Price target and FY 2008 eps estimates hold at $44 and $2.65.

Genco Shipping ( GNK) rated new Outperfrom at Credit Suisse. Remains bullish on the near-term outlook for charter rates and believes current stock price presents a compelling entry point. Sets $70 target.

Helen of Troy ( HELE) upgraded at Jefferies to Buy rating from Hold. Price target and FY 2008 eps estimates hold at $21 and $1.80.

Intuitive Surgical ( ISRG) downgraded at Wachovia to Market Perform. Stock looks fully valued, as 2008 estimates may fall short of consensus expectations.

Illinois Tool Works ( ITW) downgraded at Merrill from Buy to Neutral. Estimates also cut, because of the company's dependence on the North American consumer.

Lear ( LEA) upgraded at Merrill from Sell to Neutral. Stock is down 30% from its recent highs, and the recent restructuring efforts are beginning to gain traction.

Rockwell Automation ( ROK) downgraded at Merrill from Neutral to Sell. Estimates also cut, as the company will likely see lower demand as the economy continues to slow down.

Sonic Automotive ( SAH) upgraded at Merrill from Neutral to Buy. $22 price target. Company continues to focus on luxury autos, and has a strong presence outside of Florida and California.

Starbucks ( SBUX) upgraded at BofA to Neutral. $20 price target. Return of Howard Schulz could ultimately lead to a recovery.

Western Refining ( WNR) upgraded at Deutsche from Sell to Hold. $28 price target. Stock has lost its premium valuation, though the refining outlook remains difficult.

STOCK COMMENTS / EPS CHANGES

American Eagle ( AEO) numbers lowered at UBS. Price target slashed to $20 from $25 and FY 2009 eps estimates drop to $1.83 from $1.97. Reiterates Neutral rating.

Charlotte Russe ( CHIC) 2008 estimates raised at FBR by 3 cents to $1.48 a share due to improved December traffic and lower promotions. Maintained Market Perform rating.

Lifecell ( LIFC) 2009 estimates cut at Morgan Stanley. Company offered disappointing guidance, because of Strattice uncertainty. Equal-weight rating.

Las Vegas Sands ( LVS) numbers lowered at Jefferies. Price target dips to $142 from $152 and FY 2008 eps estimates drop to $3.05 from $3.14. Reiterates Buy rating.

Tween Brands ( TWB) 2007 estimates raised at FBR by 9 cents to $1.91 a share following announcement of strong December comp. Maintained Outperform rating.

Wynn Resorts ( WYNN) numbers lowered at Jefferies. Price target dips to $147 from $152 and FY 2008 eps estimates drop to $3.47 from $3.62. Reiterates Buy rating.

STRATEGY CALLS / MARKET CALLS

Retail estimates cut at Morgan Stanley:Estimates cut at 6 retailers because of credit risk, Morgan Stanley said. SHLD probably has the largest amount of earnings at risk. Top-rated stocks remain WMT, TGT, CVS, NKE and WAG.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.

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