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New Stock Coverage: Mice at Whole Foods? Fat Cats Don't Care


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

Default, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
-- Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2

I quote from memory. It may in fact have been "Dassault (OTCMKTS:DASTY), dear Brutus," for that stock followed up Monday's 10.53% mauling with a downgrade-related 4.31% tumble on Tuesday. And, with Caesars Entertainment (CZR) having itself imploded 11.08%, perhaps I stand accused of further twisting the knife into a fine fellow long since stabbed in the back 23 times. But the blame game for our Washington woes does indeed begin by looking in the mirror; we elected these ignoramuses. Thus it was that the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropped by triple digits as politicians continued to dither. House Speaker John Boehner helpfully called the Senate proposal a "hand grenade" but even those warlike words failed to aid the underperforming defense sector, paced by a 13.81% plunge in FLIR Systems (NASDAQ:FLIR).

Elsewhere JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) lost another 8.89% amid bankruptcy rumors. All else having failed, it will now put its faith in Mickey Mouse. (Hey, as we shall soon see with Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM), long tails are not necessarily a reason to go short.) And Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) obviously has it in for fellow fruits. Not content with bludgeoning BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), it now raids Burberry (OTCMKTS:BURBY).

Today in economics, the Fed will release its "beige book", detailing economic conditions in a dozen districts, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Hump Day of the first full week for third quarter earnings announcements is upon us, with American Express (NYSE:AXP), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY), International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), and PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) among a multitude of big names due to report results.

American Tower (NYSE:AMT): Goldman Sachs starts the stock at a Buy.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF): The iron ore outfit, up 4.09% yesterday, is rated Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Geron (NASDAQ:GERN): GERN gets assigned a Buy rating at MLV & Co, whose target price is $6.50. Pending Phase II trial results for imetelstat regarding myelofibrosis offer promise, the broker believes. Shares are, accordingly, showing strength ahead of the open.

Grand Canyon Education (NASDAQ:LOPE): Shares are begun with a Buy at Citigroup.

Grocers: Fairway Group (NASDAQ:FWM), The Fresh Market (NASDAQ:TFM), and Safeway (NYSE:SWY), are all Outperforms at BMO Capital Markets.

Home Improvement Retailers: SunTrust Robinson Humphrey starts Buys on both Home Depot (NYSE:HD), a Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component, and its smaller rival Lowe's (NYSE:LOW).

LATAM Airlines (NYSE:LFL): Shares are launched with an Outperform opinion and $20 price objective at Imperial Capital, which calls the company a turnaround play.

Luxottica (NYSE:LUX): The stock is an Underperform at BNP Paribas.

Northwest Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ:NWBO): NWBO is a new Outperform at Oppenheimer, whose target price is $5.

Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC): Lake Street has a fresh Hold on the firearms firm.

Steel Stocks: AK Steel (NYSE:AKS) is an Underperform at Credit Suisse, which has a new Neutral on US Steel (NYSE:X). Nucor (NYSE:NUE) and Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ:STLD) are each assigned Outperform.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM): More good news for the upscale foodie favorite, which yesterday hit the highest level in its history even as a stomach-turning story about an in-house mouse dropped in its lap. Today it scores an upbeat Outperform initiation at BMO Capital.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Alaska Air Comes in From the Cold and Stock Downgrades: Now's Not the Time to Be Overweight Vivus.)
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