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Stock Downgrades: Apple Is Pooh-Poohed in Paris

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

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Last week, we said a sad sayonara to "the last Samurai", a soldier named Hiroo Onoda who spent three decades trapped in a jungle time warp, still scanning the sky for American World War Two bombers in 1974. (He could be forgiven for thinking Japan won that conflict, having seen Tokyo's own Suntory buy proud son of Uncle Sam, Jim Beam Inc. (NYSE:BEAM) for $16 billion in the last week of his life.) There was a similar Rip Van Winkle air to US equity markets last week, with AOL Inc (NYSE:AOL) jumping 12.22% as the dial-up pioneer dialed it back to 1999. Otherwise, however, stocks mostly marked time, with Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) eking out an infinitesimal 0.13% increase and the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) edging off all of 0.20%. SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY), although downgraded this morning, surged 12% to a fresh best, which will go down well in the Land of the Rising Sun. This even as the last person to leave Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) was ordered to turn off the lights as the tech firm bid goodbye to two of its key executives. Marissa Mayer must sometimes wish she had never left Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), whose stock finished the week at the highest level in its history. For a firm whose motto is "Don't Be Evil," it has had an oddly devilish year - making nice with North Korea, renaming a section of Berlin after Adolf Hitler, and getting San Franciscans riled up enough to attack its buses. (This, in the peace-loving birthplace of Flower Power.) Fortune continues to smile on the company, however, having just named it the best company to work for in all of America.

There aren't any top-tier economic data due to move US stock markets today. Earnings season arrives in earnest, however, with Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD), Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), Cree (NASDAQ:CREE), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), SAP AG (NYSE:SAP), Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN), Travelers (NYSE:TRV), Unilever (NYSE:UN), Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), and Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX) all releasing results.

Air France (OTCMKTS:AFLYY): The company, whose iffy on-time arrival record has earned it the nickname "Air Chance" in Europe, is now Neutral from Buy at UBS. Staying in the City of Lights…

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): French financial firm Société Générale slashes tech titan Apple to Hold from Buy. "Our research suggests that volumes may come in below expectations," the analyst wrote in a note, adding, "With the lower-priced 5C model in the mix, our assumed average selling price for Q1 FY14 is 4% lower than the previous year." Its $575 price objective on the stock is intact.

Covance (NYSE:CVD): Goldman Sachs cuts CVD to Neutral from Buy.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the energy outfit, a key Dow component, to Neutral from Buy.

FireEye (NASDAQ:FEYE): On a day of multiple downgrades for momentum stocks, shares of the recent market darling are now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan. Shares are trading lower this morning as a result.

lululemon athletica (NASDAQ:LULU): Lululemon, which lost 14.93% last week, sees its stock slashed to Neutral from Strong Buy at ISI Group today.

Nationstar Mortgage (NYSE:NSM): NSM is now Perform from Outperform with an amended price objective of $45 at FBR Capital.

Skechers USA (NYSE:SKX): Shares in the sneaker king are cut to Hold from Buy at BB&T.

SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY): SolarCity stock, which surged some 14% last week, is falling 4% as we speak after getting taken to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX): Citing slowing comparative sales, Goldman Sachs cuts the coffee company to Buy from Conviction Buy.

Target (NYSE:TGT): TGT is taken to Underperform from Perform at Cowen.

3D Systems (NYSE:DDD): Shares of the 3-D printer are now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC): The stock gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham.

TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX): The discount retailer is reduced to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee.

T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:TROW): Citigroup cuts its fellow financial name to Neutral from Buy.

Violin Memory (NYSE:VMEM): Shares are downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

See also:

New Stock Coverage: Paris Is Happy With Hilton

Stock Upgrades: Alcoa Proves You Don't Need Paris When There's Pittsburgh
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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