6 Stocks With Upgrades

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These six stocks were upgraded by TheStreet Ratings to a buy on Tuesday: Southwest Airlines ( LUV), Macerich ( MAC), Hologic ( HOLX), Beam ( BEAM), Diebold ( DBD) and Associated Banc-Corp ( ASBC).

Southwest Airlines

The airline on Tuesday said revenue passenger miles in January fell 2.7% from the previous year to 7.4 billion.

Southwest also announced last week that it was adding flights from Denver and Austin, Texas to Cancun.

"Southwest Airlines expects 2012 capacity to be flat with 2011, which will help the company to improve passenger unit revenue to offset higher y/y jet fuel prices," Dahlman Rose analysts wrote in a Jan. 20 report. "With no capacity growth this year, Southwest expects mid- to high-single digit passenger unit revenue growth. January and February are expected to see growth of 7%-8%, with March expecting to slow."

Southwest Airlines was upgraded to a buy from a hold by TheStreet Ratings.

Of the 17 analysts who cover the stock, eight rated it a buy and an equal number considered it a hold. One analyst gave Southwest a sell rating.

Southwest has an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 8.91. The average among the airlines is 8.46. Both Delta ( DAL) and United Continental Holdings ( UAL) have lower forward P/Es of 4.1 and 3.92, respectively.

TheStreet Ratings gives Southwest a B- grade with a $11.60 price target. The stock closed Monday at $9.75; it has risen 13.9% year to date.

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Macerich

The real estate investment trust last week reported fourth-quarter nt income of $162.1 million, or $1.23 a share, which increased from year-earlier earnings of $23.6 million, or 18 cents.

"External growth outlook also appears healthy, with three meaningful projects in the near-term (30 mos) pipeline. Fashion Outlets of Chicago is a $200M outlet development held in a 60/40 JV with AWE/Talisman (MAC share $120M)," Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts wrote in a report on Monday. "Comments last quarter pointed to a groundbreaking in Nov '11; recent comments suggest construction loan will be in place within next 30-45 days. Despite the delay, new outlet center is expected to open in Aug '13 and garner 10% to 11% yield. MAC also intends to expand Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls; adding 200-250k sf to existing 530k sf center, which was purchased for $200M in July '11. Construction is expected to begin soon, with opening 2 years after. Finally, MAC continues to work towards densifying Tysons Corner Center; est $200M share investment to add 550k sf of office & 500k sf of retail to its existing 2.0M sf mall. Expansion is expected to open in '14."

Macerich was upgraded to a buy from a hold by TheStreet Ratings.

Of the 19 analysts who cover the company, 11 rated it a buy. The other eight analysts considered Macerich a hold.

Macerich's forward P/E is 55.2. The average for retail REITs is 52.64. Simon Property Group ( SPG) and Realty Income ( O) both have lower forward P/Es of 36.57 and 36.28, respectively.

TheStreet Ratings gives Macerich a B grade and $63.66 price target. The stock closed Monday at $55.20 and has increased 9.09% year to date.


Hologic

The surgical products company reported on Jan. 30 first-quarter earnings of $20.8 million, or 8 cents a share, an increase from year-ago fourth quarter earnings of $10.9 million, or 4 cents.

"We are reiterating our OUTPERFORM rating and $24 price target following HOLX's Q1/12 earnings release," Barrington Research analysts wrote in a Feb. 1 report. "We believe the women's health market is an attractive market opportunity. Given that HOLX is the clear leader of this market, investors should be appropriately aligned with this positive trend given the current valuation of HOLX's shares."

Hologic was upgraded to a buy from a hold by TheStreet Ratings.

Of the 24 analysts who cover the company, 15 rated it a buy. Eight considerd Hologic a hold and one rated it a sell.

Hologic has a forward P/E of 13.8. The average among medical supplies companies is 20.92. C.R. Bard ( BCR) and Alere ( ALR) both have lower forward P/Es of 13.29 and 9.55, respectively.

TheStreet Ratings gives Hologic a B- grade and $24.37 price target. The stock closed Monday at $20.79 and has risen 18.73% year to date.

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Beam

The branded distilled spirits company last week reported fourth-quarter earnings of $94.1 million, or 69 cents a share. Net income a year earlier was $85.4 million.

"Beam has good growth momentum but we think it is priced in," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a report on Monday. "We think valuation reflects it as a potential acquisition candidate (cited in many press articles, including Bloomberg and Reuters). It is one of the few nonfamily influenced spirits pure-plays and has a solid presence in bourbon."

Beam was upgraded to a buy from a hold by TheStreet Ratings.

Of the 13 analysts who cover the company, five rated it a hold. An equal number (4) categorized Beam as a buy and a hold.

Beam has a forward P/E of 20.9. The average among distillers and vintners is 17.21. Constellation Brands ( STZ) has a lower forward P/E of 9.84.

TheStreet Ratings gives Beam a B- grade with a $62.74 price target. The stock closed Monday at $54 and has increased 5.41% year to date.


Diebold

"Following strong 4Q results and 2012 guidance from NCR, we believe we have underestimated demand in the Financial Services vertical, and we are reintroducing growth into segment revenue in mid 2012," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a report Tuesday. "We still prefer NCR to DBD, but we believe DBD is positioned to perform in line with the mean of our coverage universe."

The security and self-service delivery company was upgraded to neutral from underweight by JPMorgan on Tuesday.

Diebold was upgraded to a buy from a hold by TheStreet Ratings.

Of the 10 analysts who cover the company, seven rated it a hold. Two analysts considered it a buy and one gave Diebold a sell rating.

Diebold has a forward P/E of 14.41. The average among computer hardware companies is 21.81. Lexmark ( LXK) and Ingram Micro ( IM) have lower forward P/Es of 8.17 and 9.9, respectively.

TheStreet Ratings gives Diebold a B grade and $38.37 price target. The stock closed Monday at $33.24 and has increased 10.54% year to date.

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Associated Banc-Corp

The bank reported last month fourth-quarter earnings of $40 million, or 23 cents a share, topping year-earlier earnings of $34 million, or 20 cents.

"At 13.5x '12 EPS, we see valuations as fair, but achievability of outer-year estimates could differentiate names as the Fed's extension of "lowerfor- longer" is assessed," Jefferies analysts wrote in a Jan. 27 report. They added, "Our top picks are PNC and STI in larger regionals and ASBC, FMBI, FNFG, SUSQ, and WAL in smid-caps."

Associated Banc-Corp was upgraded to a buy from a hold by TheStreet Ratings.

Of the 18 analysts who cover the company, 12 rated it a hold. Five analysts considered Associated Banc-Corp a buy and one rated it a sell.

Associated Banc-Corp has a forward P/E of 12.95. The average for banks is 14.27. First Niagara ( FNFG) and Zions ( ZION) have lower P/Es of 8.93 and 9.72, respectively.

TheStreet Ratings gives Associated Banc-Corp a B- grade with a $15.11 price target. The stock closed Monday at $12.95 and has risen 15.94% year to date.

>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 6 Stocks With Upgrades portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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