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Upgrades & Downgrades: Analysts Still Queuing Up to Cut Netflix


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

On Monday in New York, sizzling November mercury turned back the clock to 1896, when the Dow Average was all of six months old. Yesterday the market made an attempt, however muted, to return to 1996, Alan Greenspan's famous year of "irrational exuberance" in equities. The S&P 500 Index increased for a second straight day after consumer confidence posted its biggest gain since April 2003, the month Colin Powell assured us that the war in Iraq is "drawing to a close." (Which will come as news to Joe Biden, who touched down in Baghdad yesterday to greet the troops.) Good gainers included Magal Security Systems (MAGS), the maker of CCTVs, among other anti-theft devices, surging some 67.17%. A little late alas to track down all of MF Global's missing millions but at least some of the stolen loot appears to have surfaced, and it only took four weeks, not six decades.

A Hollywood hottie tried to make us believe boys didn't make passes when she wore glasses in high school. Tough to believe but two companies closely associated with glass were certainly shunned by shareholders. Corning (GLW), downgraded this morning, tumbled 10.76% to post the S&P 500′s poorest performance, closely followed by Tiffany (TIF) 8.69% implosion. The latter - which once lavishly paid Anne Hathaway to wear its bling - didn't see much return on its investment, the movie star instead turning to her husband to design her ring. And H&R Block (HRB) rose 1.61%. With President Obama in Manhattan today, within hours of the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree, these are indeed taxing times for conifers. This morning in economics, the November Chicago Purchasing Managers Index is out at 9:45 a.m. Eastern, followed by September pending home sales at 10:00 a.m. On the corporate front, Aeropostale (ARO), American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), Coldwater Creek (CWTR), Guess (GES), and La-Z-Boy (LZB) are all due to report results.


Commodity companies: Dow component Alcoa (AA) is a new Neutral at Macquarie, which assigns Underperforms on U.S. Steel (X) and AK Steel (AKS) and has an Outperform on Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX). Also see yesterday's Chart of the Day: Alcoa.

ConAgra (CAG): Janney Montgomery Scott covers CAG at a Buy.

Moneygram (MGI): MGI is a new Neutral at JPMorgan.

New Oriental Education & Technology (EDU): Credit Suisse covers EDU at Outperform.

Pharmaceutical stocks: Citigroup begins Buys on British based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Shire PLC (SHPGY) and assigns a Neutral on AstraZeneca (AZN). For related content, see Inhibitex Soars as Investors Chase Hepatitis Drug Developers.

Auto parts sector: American Axle (AXL), Dana Holding (DAN), and Lear Corp (LEA) are all launched at Sector Perform by RBC Capital, which assigns Outperforms on both Borg Warner (BWA) and Johnson Controls (JCI), and names Tenneco (TEN) a Top Pick.

RenaissanceRe (RNR): Goldman Sachs rolls out Buy rated coverage on RNR.

Hotel REITs: RLJ Lodging Trust (RLJ) is a new Neutral at Janney Montgomery Scott, which begins Chesapeake Lodging Trust (CHSP) with a Buy.

SanDisk (SNDK): The tech stock is named a long Research Tactical Idea at Morgan Stanley.

Syngenta (SYT): Jefferies begins Buy rated coverage on the agricultural chemicals company.

Subsea 7 SA (SUBCY): The seabed-to-surface engineering outfit it initiated with an Overweight at HSBC Securities.


Agrium (AGU): AGU is upgraded to Action List Buy from Buy at TD Securities.

Energy stocks: Barclays gives Overweight-from-Equal Weight boosts to Anadarko Petroleum (APC), Cenovus Energy (CVE), Nexen (NXY), and Spain's Repsol SA. See also Four Oil Stocks Facing Potential Political Risks.

Accretive Health (AH): AH gets increased to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer, which believes it is well positioned to meet or exceed revenue expectations for 2012.

Cameron International (CAM) The oil services outfit is upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities, which takes its target price up by $1 to $63.

FirstEnergy (FE): ISI Group gives the electric utility a Buy-from-Hold hoist.

Navistar International (NAV): NAV gets boosted to Neutral from Sell at Goldman.

OM Group (OMG): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Keybanc.

Leap Wireless (LEAP): RBC Capital lifts LEAP to Outperform from Sector Perform.

OAO Gazprom (OGZPY): The Russian oil giant is upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.


Corning (GLW): The stock is cut by an unusual 180 degrees, to Underperform from Outperform, at Credit Agricole after yesterday's steep sell-off.

Netflix (NFLX): NFLX is now Underperform from Neutral with Wedbush, which assigns a price objective of $45.

Daimler AG (DDAIF): The German luxury car giant gets lowered to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Vulcan Materials (VMC): Shares are moved to Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

Calpine (CPN): Jefferies cuts CPN to Hold from Buy.

Amerisafe (AMSF): The property and casualty insurance company is taken to Neutral from Buy at Suntrust.

Southwestern Energy (SWN): SWN is downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Transocean (RIG): RIG is reduced to Hold from Buy at Argus due to their decision to issue additional shares, allied to its weak November fleet status report.


No positions in stocks mentioned.
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