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Equity Brief: Ratings Changes for November 21st: MON, MPC, NRGY, NTES, ODFL, PENN, PXD, RE, SCVL


A number of stocks were upgraded and downgraded by equities research analysts today, as reported by Analyst Ratings Network (http://bit.ly/equitybriefdaily) and Equity Brief:

Topeka Capital upgraded shares of Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) from a hold rating to a buy rating. They wrote, "When initiating coverage with a Hold rating in Sept., we acknowledged MON's positive commercial momentum, and anticipated positive Ag fundamentals - particularly in corn -would remain a favorable tailwind for the Company. These aspects of the MON story remain intact. Our cautiousness was based primarily on perceptions regarding questions about the diminishing effectiveness of certain biotech traits, which could ultimately undermine MON's valuation, along with perceived uncertainty regarding the impending expiration of MON's RR patent in 2014. We now believe these potential issues could be less acute, if not benign, at least in the relatively near-term."

Bank of America initiated coverage on shares of Marathon Petroleum (NYSE: MPC). They issued a buy rating on the stock and set a $70.00 price target. They wrote, "We are resuming coverage of Marathon Petroleum Corp following the MPLX IPO with a Buy rating and price objective of $70. For context we position MPC alongside Valero as our two preferred names in the sector. Overall, we retain a broadly cautious sector view given the seasonal downturn in demand and potential negative supply catalysts. But with growing exposure to discounted heavy Canadian crude at its recently converted Detroit refinery, and increased leverage to the Gulf Coast via the pending Texas City acquisition we view MPC as equally leveraged to the emerging crude advantage we envisage on the US Gulf Coast. Alongside the recent IPO of MPLX LP, which anchors the value of a previously undervalued mid stream we believe MPC can sustain a premium multiple versus most peers..with upside if current crude differentials hold."

Robert W. Baird upgraded shares of Inergy (NASDAQ: NRGY) from a neutral rating to an outperform rating. Robert W. Baird now has a $21.00 price target on the stock.

HSBC initiated coverage on shares of Netease.com Inc (NASDAQ: NTES). They issued a neutral rating on the stock.

Wunderlich initiated coverage on shares of Old Dominion (NASDAQ: ODFL). They issued a hold rating on the stock and set a $38.00 price target. They wrote, "We are initiating coverage of Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. (NASDAQ: ODFL) with a Hold rating and $38 target. ODFL is a best-in-class non-union less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier providing regional, inter-regional, and national LTL service. The company's strong service levels, pricing discipline, and technology-embedded culture have driven strong market share gains and industry-leading margins over the last five years. Management is targeting market share growth from 6% to 10% over the next 3-4 years by building land density through increased customer penetration. Our near-term caution rests with decelerating tonnage and pricing trends due to a weak macro backdrop, which is likely to translate into slower margin expansion and earnings growth."

Lazard upgraded shares of Penn National Gaming (PENN) from a neutral rating to a buy rating.

Citigroup initiated coverage on shares of Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD). They issued a buy rating on the stock and set a $120.00 price target.

Deutsche Bank initiated coverage on shares of Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD). They issued a buy rating on the stock. They wrote, "Driven by its predominantly oil & liquids Permian Basin and Eagle Ford shale plays, we project Pioneer will post aboveaverage production growth near term with above-average returns. Thus, we are initiating coverage with a $120 price target which equates to 2013E/2014E 'normalized' EV/DACF multiples of 7.0x/6.4x (vs. 6.5x/6.0x targets for our E&P coverage group) and 114% of proven-only NAV (vs. 115% for coverage group)."

Zacks reiterated its neutral rating on shares of Everest Re Group, Ltd. (RE). They have a $109.00 price target on the stock. Zacks' analyst wrote, "Everest Re's reported thrid quarter earnings were substantially ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimates. The beat was attributable to lower claims expenses and increased revenue. We remain optimistic about a favorable reinsurance market pricing, led by the last year's cat loss events. The company, which is a big player in the reinsurance market, is likely to gain from any such developments going ahead. Further, Everest's initiatives to aggressively expand in the international market are likely to contribute significantly to the overall top line. We believe that given its conservative financial leverage measures, the company will be able to maintain financial flexibility with the ability to effectively manage its capital. However, lower reinvestment rates coupled with difficulties in managing reserves and exposure to catastrophe losses are certain headwinds to Everest Re's earnings. "

Avondale Partners downgraded shares of Shoe Carnival (SCVL) from an outperform rating to a market perform rating.

Wunderlich lowered its price target on shares of SandRidge Mississippian Trust I (SDT) from $20.00 to $17.50. They have a hold rating on the stock.

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