CHANGE IN RATINGS

Akamai ( AKAM) upgraded at Goldman Sachs to Neutral from Sell following Q1 results that beat expectations. Note that strong international growth offset somewhat weak domestic results, which likely indicate increasing competition. Price target raised to $18.50 from $16.

Costco ( COST) downgraded at UBS from Buy to Neutral. $52 price target. Valuation call, as the stock is up 25% since early March.

Endo Pharma ( ENDP) downgraded at Oppenheimer from Outperform to Perform. Lidoderm may not grow as quickly as expected. Pipeline concerns also remain.

Goodyear Tire ( GT) downgraded at Citigroup from Buy to Hold. Valuation call, following the stock's recent run. $12 price target. Estimates also cut, to reflect lower volume sales.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber ( GT) upgraded at Goldman Sachs to Neutral from Sell. Q1 results showed resilient pricing and improving ability to manage near-term weakness in volumes. Expect company to benefit from cheaper materials cost in the second half of 2009, as well as lower cost structure. Price target raised to $11 from $7.

Itron ( ITRI) downgraded at Wachovia from Outperform to Market Perform. Company had very poor first quarter results and has little forward visibility.

Martin Marietta ( MLM) downgraded at Citigroup from Hold to Sell. $75 price target. Other in the materials business have warned of lower prices and volumes this quarter.

OptionsXpress ( OXPS) upgraded at Goldman Sachs to Neutral from Sell. Q1 results showed stability, while acquisition of Optionetics could boost long-term earnings results. Price target raised to $16 from $10.

PepsiAmericas ( PAS) downgraded at UBS from Buy to Neutral. Valuation call, based on a $27 price target.

Praxair ( PX) upgraded at JPMorgan to Overweight from Neutral based on substantial cost reductions and strong Q1 results. See potential for multiple expansion and increased premium in realtive valuation. Price target raised to $80 from $60.

Reynolds American ( RAI) downgraded at UBS from Buy to Neutral. $42 price target. Stock now trades on par with MO, and earnings headwinds remain.

Vulcan Materials ( VMC) downgraded at Citigroup from Hold to Sell. $44 price target. Aggregate prices appear to be falling and first quarter volumes were also likely weak. Dividend may also need to be cut.

STOCK COMMENTS / EPS CHANGES

Aetna ( AET) estimates reduced at UBS through 2010. Company seeing strong momentum, but loss rates remain high. Buy rating and $37 price target.

Aflac ( AFL) target raised at Morgan Stanley to $35. Company posted strong numbers and capital concerns have moved to the back burner. Overweight rating.

Citrix Systems ( CTXS) numbers increased at UBS to $23. Estimates also raised, to reflect higher margins from cost savings. Sell rating.

FTI Consulting ( FCN) numbers cut at UBS through 2010. Company seeing higher restructuring and bankruptcy demand. Buy rating and new $70 price target.

First Solar ( FSLR) numbers raised at Merrill/BofA to $200. Estimates also increased through 2010, as the company far exceeded first quarter expectations. Buy rating.

Hess ( HES) estimates, target raised at UBS to $60. Estimates also increased, to reflect higher marketing and trading income. Neutral rating.

Hess ( HES) estimates, target cut at Barclays through 2010. Do not see much exploration growth in the near term. Equal-weight rating and new $75 price target.

Qwest ( Q) estimates raised at UBS through 2010. Company is seeing better margins on cost-cutting, despite lower sales. Neutral rating and $3.80 price target.

Starbucks ( SBUX) target higher at Goldman, to $13 from $12 following inline Q2 results. Note some improvement in margins but uncertainty in new initiatives such as instant coffee. Maintained Neutral rating.

Starbucks ( SBUX) estimates, target increased at Barclays. Shares now seen reaching $11. Estimates raised because of cost savings and stabilizing comp sales. Equal-weight rating.

Sealed Air ( SEE) numbers raised at Barclays through 2011. Company seeing a slight increase in food packaging sales. Equal-weight rating and new $16 price target.

Southern Company ( SO) estimates cut at UBS through 2010. Company is seeing lower industrial demand. Neutral rating and $32 price target.

Target ( TGT) numbers increased at UBS to $42. Estimates also boosted, to reflect more stable sales. Neutral rating.

Time Warner Cable ( TWC) numbers raised at Morgan Stanley through 2011. Company is trying to manage pricing and subscriber growth in a difficult environment. Equal-weight rating and new $30 price target.

Visa ( V) price target raised at Goldman to $70 from $62 based on strong Q2 results, including better than expected revenue and earnings. Note higher operating margins as a result of cost controls, offsetting weakness in payment volumes. Maintained Buy rating.

Visa ( V) estimates, target raised at Barclays to $68. Estimates also increased, because of stronger revenue growth. Equal-weight rating.
This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.

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