Stock Downgrades: Aflac's Duck Dynasty Is Over

By Justin Sharon  NOV 04, 2013 9:32 AM

Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

 


The Jonas Brothers, who just broke up, and the Collyer Brothers, historic hoarders who saw Container Store (NYSE:TCS) surge 101.11% on Friday — had better weeks. But, for the rest of us, Lehman Brothers are but a fast-fading bad dream. US markets hit fresh historic highs, as a month that began with a governmental ghost town and ended on Halloween raised investors’ spirits. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) stocks rose 5% in October, even as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) fell 4.2% on the week. The social networking name will one day have more deceased profiles than live ones; its stock now looks like dead money after a robust recent run. In a spooky trading week that ended with the Day of the Dead, there was no dead-cat bounce for Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), and its delisting made kitty seriously pissed. Europe’s PIIGS are suddenly in better health, yet Spanish sausage maker Viscofan (MCE:VIS) still plunged 9.6%, with that stock enduring its worst week for over half a decade. And don’t expect cosmetics company Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) to put lipstick on any tapirs; its shares imploded 17%.
 
In terms of events that may move markets today, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern August and September factory orders are each released. On the earnings front, several specific stocks could be impacted by quarterly earnings announcements. These include Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC), CF Industries (NYSE:CF), Goodrich Petroleum (NYSE:GDP), Hertz (NYSE:HTZ), HSBC Holdings (NYSE:HBC), Kellogg (NYSE:K), Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO), Office Depot (NYSE:ODP), OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX), Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD), Plains All American Pipeline (NYSE:PAA), and Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC).
 
AFLAC Inc. (NYSE:AFL): The currently-convalescing AFLAC duck — let’s hope its doctor isn’t a quack — gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup. Insurance outfit AFLAC officially stands for “American Family Life Assurance Company” but today, such $10 words are likely off the table.
 
Anworth Mortgage (NYSE:ANH): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform by Keefe Bruyette.
 
AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN): UBS reduces the European pharmaceutical firm to Neutral from Buy.
 
Bridgepoint Education (NYSE:BPI): The stock gets slashed to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank.
 
Calpine (NYSE:CPN): Jefferies lowers the electric utility to Hold from Buy. Its price objective, previously $23.50, is trimmed to $21.
 
Computer Programs & Systems (NASDAQ:CPSI): Shares get reduced to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James.
 
Danone (OTCMKTS:DANOY): Danone, best known for its yogurt, is now Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs. As a result of the analyst’s action, stock in Danone is trading lower overseas as we speak.
 
Digital Realty Trust (NYSE:DLR): DLR is downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird due to valuation issues. Its target price is also taken lower, to $48 from $69.
 
Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS): Suit yourself. Goldman Sachs slashes The Gap, king of casual Fridays, to Neutral from Buy. The Gap has been fairly flat over the past year, returning only 4.76%.
 
Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC): MRO is moved to In-Line from Outperform at Imperial Capital.
 
NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP): NTAP is now Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.
 
Range Resources (NYSE:RRC): Barclays reduces RRC to Underweight from Equal Weight.
 
Reliance Steel (NYSE:RS): Goldman cuts the commodity company to Neutral from Buy.
 
Republic Services (NYSE:RSG): The waste management company gets moved to Neutral from Outperform with Wedbush.
 
Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TEVA): TEVA was downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Save the Last Dance for SFX Entertainment and Stock Upgrades: Party On, Red Sox Nation. Boston Beer Gets a Boost)
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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