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Upgrades & Downgrades: Porsche Hits a Pothole


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

Shares paused for breath after a five week winning streak, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) falling as the crumbling state of Athens again made its weary way onto the front page of The Wall Street Journal after a welcome hiatus. (That's the Georgian, not the Greek version, but the beleaguered nature of the Mediterranean country's economy suggests it will soon enough be the end of the world as we know it over there also.) Declines occurred amid the year's lowest trading volume, corporate America apparently not at its most productive 24 hours after a great gridiron game. Indeed events in Indianapolis continued to echo, most notably in an iconic water cooler moment of the blink-and-you-missed-it variety; Rick Santorum certainly did. I refer of course to singer M.I.A. and her halftime middle finger, a scientific dissection of which sent DVR titan TiVo Inc (TIVO) up 2.76% in its most widely watched teachable moment since 2004′s wardrobe malfunction.

Surely we should give the British born songstress the benefit of the doubt? After all, in her country, it's two digits, not one, held aloft which are offensive. As inadvertently demonstrated by Gisele Bündchen, the Brazilian supermodel wife of a Super Bowl spouse, who showed a good grasp of both football and physics by helpfully explaining "My husband cannot f**king throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time." In this photo, she is holding up the very combination of fingers that are considered rude on M.I.A.'s side of the Atlantic, yet the explanation is again an innocent one. Ms. Bündchen is merely indicating the number of yogurt cones in the hands of her and Tom Brady at that particular Kodak moment. And on a day Danone (DANOY.PK) attracted positive analyst chatter for its maiden Super Bowl ad, who can blame her?

The commercial in question featured John Stamos, or Stamatopoulos to give him his original Athenian surname, being head-butted by a woman. That's a low blow, especially considering premium yogurt is one of the few growth areas of the Greek economy. Elsewhere the Giants-Pats match-up attracted 111.3 million viewers, making it the most viewed event in television history according to Nielsen (NLSN). Although a fat lot of good that did Nielsen, which fell 4.53%. In post-game analyst action, a M.I.A.-inspired broker flipped the bird at Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD), their shares subsequently tumbling 2.02%. And while some smelled a rat in Walt Disney (DIS) being boosted ahead of today's earnings announcement, it was probably only because of who was Manning the fort in the House of Mouse.


International Business Machines (IBM): The Dow (^DJI) component is begun with a Buy at Sterne Agee.

Sirius XM Radio (SIRI): Barclays starts the employer of shock jock Howard Stern at an Underweight.

PetSmart (PETM): PETM is picked up with a Neutral at Northcoast.

Rentech Nitrogen Partners (RNF): Shares are resumed with an Outperform recommendation and $30 price objective at Imperial Capital, which cites strong agricultural industry fundamentals supported by robust demand for ethanol and global population growth.

Office/Industrial REITS: Something for everyone in the sector at Cantor Fitzgerald, which covers CoreSite Realty (COR) at a Buy, has a Hold on BioMed Realty (BMR), and starts Digital Realty Trust (DLR) with a Sell.


Bayerische Motoren Werke (BAMXY): The German car giant is better known as simply BMW Group but it can afford three $10 words this morning after being boosted to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

Charles Schwab Corp (SCHW): ISI Group gives the discount broker a Buy-from-Hold hoist.

Diebold (DBD): Encouraged by impressive earnings guidance from competitor NCR Corp (NCR), JP Morgan moves the Ohio-based maker of ATM machines to Neutral from Underweight and takes its target price up by $5.50 to $34.50.

Hanesbrands (HBI): The underwear maker gets hoisted to Buy from Hold at BB&T Capital.

Select Comfort (SCSS): Wedbush boosts the adjustable bed maker to Outperform from Neutral, increasing its objective by a substantial $16 to $36.

Lufkin Industries (LUFK): Suntrust lifts LUFK to Buy from Neutral.

Mid-America Apartment Communities (MAA): Jefferies juices its opinion to Buy from Hold.


AstraZeneca (AZN): The pharmaceutical firm is moved to Underperform from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Apparel/Accessories: Urban Outfitters (URBN) is slashed to Sell from Hold with a $23 target at Brean Murray, whose concerns include management turnover in recent months. Underwear outfit Warnaco Group (WRC) gets cut to Hold from Buy by the broker amid currency headwinds and a limited ability to increase prices. Finally, from FX issues to limited price increases to a more normalized square footage rollout schedule. Finally, Fossil (FOSL) is taken to Hold from Buy as its $100 objective has now been achieved and Street expectations appear overly optimistic.

Bankrate (RATE): RATE is reduced to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus as it now trades within 6.5% of their previous $26 target.

Walgreen (WAG): Shares are slashed to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup, which takes its target down to $28 from $35. (SOHU): The beleaguered Chinese Internet outfit is now Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna and Hold from Buy with the Royal Bank of Scotland. (CYOU): Goldman gives a Neutral-from-Buy downgrade to CYOU.

Porsche (POAHY.PK): The luxury automaker is now Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities.

Globe Specialty Metals JP Morgan moves GSM to Neutral from Overweight.

Newfield Exploration (NFX): UBS takes the stock to Neutral from Buy.

Yamana Gold (AUY): The commodity company is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Dahlman Rose due to valuation issues.

Repsol SA (REPYY.PK): Natixis reduces its rating on the Spanish energy outfit to Neutral from Buy.

Seaspan (SSW): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

SL Green Realty (SLG): Jefferies gives SLG a Hold-from-Buy downgrade.

Aon Corp (AON): The Illinois insurance outfit is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Gannett (GCI): The USA Today owner is downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Lazard, sending shares lower before the bell.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the stock to Underperform from Neutral.

Henry Schein Inc (HSIC): The healthcare company is cut to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Carrefour SA (CRRFY.PK): BNP Paribas takes the French supermarket firm to Neutral from Buy.

Zoltek (ZOLT): ZOLT is now Underperform from Hold at Needham, whose caution arises from uncertainty about the near-term rate of uptake for the company's carbon fiber material.
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