Goldman Sachs upgraded its rating on power-plant operator PPL ( PPL - Get Report) to its recommended list and issued positive comments on three other utilities companies that are moving from a regulated business to a more independent business.

PPL was given a price target of $55. Goldman cited rapid growth in the nonregulated utilities business as an expectation of continued strong performance in the stock, which closed at $38.81 yesterday. This morning, the stock was trading up $1.75, or 4.7%, to $40.56. Goldman said the "transitioning" growth group is expected to provide returns of 45% to 50% over the next 12 months.

"The best total return prospects under the transitioning-growth theme are in four stocks, including Edison International ( EIX), Pacific Electric & Gas ( PCG), and Constellation Energy Group ( CEG) and PPL," analyst Jonathan Raleigh said in the Goldman note.

After Sun Microsystems ( SUNW - Get Report) held a midquarter conference call, analysts remain generally positive on the stock. Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston and UBS Warburg affirmed their existing ratings. Banc of America Securities cut the target price on the stock to $130 from $145, but said the move reflects weakness in technology stocks, rather than specific problems with the company.

Upgrades

Intrawest ( IDR): UP to buy from accumulate at Merrill Lynch; price target: $25.

Barnes & Noble ( BNS - Get Report): UP to buy from outperform at Salomon Smith Barney, price target $30; UP to buy from accumulate at Merrill Lynch; price target: $35.

Bergen Brunswig ( BBC): UP to buy from outperform at Lehman Brothers.

Veritas Software ( VRTS): price target UP to $160 from $150 at Lehman Brothers.

Downgrades

Gentex ( GNTX): DOWN to accumulate from strong buy at Prudential Securities.

Navisite ( NAVI): DOWN to accumulate from strong buy at Prudential Securities.

Kulicke & Soffa ( KLIC): estimates DOWN to $1.62 from $1.68 in 2000; down to 11 cents from 25 cents in 2001 at Merrill Lynch.

Initiations

Homestore.com ( HOMS): NEW outperform at Salomon Smith Barney; price target: $36.

BISYS Group ( BSYS): NEW buy at CSFB; price target: $58.

Quaker Oats ( OAT): NEW market performer at Banc of America Securities.