Merck ( MRK) downgraded at Natixis to Hold. $27 price target. Zetia is facing more risks as a recent trial was halted. Nuance Communications ( NUAN) initiated at Deutsche Bank. Initiated with a Buy rating and $18 price target. Introduces 2009 EPS estimates of $1.02. Novellus ( NVLS) Upgraded at Barclays to equal weight from underweight and price target increased to $18 from $14. Rating change due to expectations for near-term strength in shares combined with slightly more optimistic view on margins which drives normalized earnings estimate higher to $0.90 from $0.65. Longer-term, Barclays remains concerned about growth outlook but do recognize that previous normalized earnings estimate did not credit the company enough with the level of cost cutting they have done. Penn National ( PENN) upgraded at SMH from Reduce to Neutral. $28.50 price target. Valuation call. Research in Motion ( RIMM) upgraded at Kaufman from Hold to Buy. $79 price target. Stock is down almost 25% from its highs, and the smart phone market has plenty of room to grow. Coverage initiated on Sirona Dental ( SIRO) at Credit Suisse with a neutral rating and $23 price target. SIRO is a leading dental equipment manufacturer that is well positioned to benefit from the longer-term secular trends in the dental industry. Valeant Pharma ( VRX) downgraded at Leerink Swann from Outperform to Market Perform. Valuation call, as the stock is already pricing in higher near-term earnings. Varian Semiconductor ( VSEA) upgraded to overweight from equal weight and price target increased to $35 from $26. The key drivers for upgrade include: 1) expect a beat on the Sep Q guide; 2) VSEA has a strong core franchise aided by aggressive cost cuts; 3) visibility to growth from adjacent opportunities by 2011; and 4) the company has strong leverage to memory makers, which will be the key incremental order driver in 2H09.
Western Union ( WU) upgraded by Credit Suisse to Outperform from Neutral. Beliefs that international remittance volumes are stabilizing and expectations of market share gains led to the increase in ratings. Increased price target to $21 from $19.
International Speedway ( ISCA) target raised at Ladenburg to $32. Company recently reiterated guidance and is improving its balance sheet. Buy rating. Sun Microsystems ( JAVA) target raised at Goldman to $9 from $3. Cites Oracles intention to acquire the co. and valuation. Maintained Neutral rating. 3PAR ( PAR) target increased at Goldman to $12.50 from $9.00 based on the firm's quantitative analysis/fundamental assessment of the company and possible takeover opportunities. Maintained Neutral rating.