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Stock Downgrades: Call Me Maybe? AT&T Hears Only Static on the Line


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

False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
-- Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7
More trouble for AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today -- this, after it was comfortably the Dow's (INDEXDJX:.DJI) poorest performer on Wednesday with a 3.78% tumble on a difficult day for phone stocks. Misery must love company, for AT&T's fellow telecom blue chip Verizon (NYSE:VZ) missed analyst earnings estimates by $0.02 a couple of hours ago.
On the Bard's 450th birthday, Wall Street carried out his instructions to the letter. Botox owner Allergan (NYSE:AGN), which specializes in fake faces, jumped 1.22% to a historic high after scoring a broker boost. "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows," raged The Tempest, and that certainly describes the extremely odd arrangement of Allergan being hunted by both an activist investor and corporate acquirer. The word "gossip" first appeared in The Comedy of Errors, and SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA) knows all about idle speculation. Its shares surged 10.71% amid unfounded rumors involving Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) one day ago. (Not to be confused with its unsubstantiated Dr Pepper Snapple (NYSE:DPS) rumor one week ago, and equally baseless Pepsico (NYSE:PEP) rumor one year ago.) And Marcellus didn't know the half of it when he said to Horatio in Hamlet, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Copenhagen is still recovering from its Swiss miss involving a Ukrainian flag flap, and sliding in sympathy was Six Flags (NYSE:SIX), its stock at half-staff after dropping 1.38% on iffy earnings. Russia may yet ride to the rescue, however.
This is the single busiest day for first-quarter earnings announcements, with the heavyweight likes of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) among a multitude of companies releasing results.
Now let's turn to this morning's rating reductions, an eclectic bunch that features a French tire firm plus AT&T.

AT&T Inc.: Shares are lowered to Long-Term Buy from Buy at Hilliard Lyons. Its amended price objective is $39.
Canadian National Railway (NYSE:CNI): BMO Capital cuts the company to Perform from Outperform.
Core Labs (NYSE:CLB): The stock is moved to Underweight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley. Its target price is also trimmed, by $20 to $200.
Michelin (OTCMKTS:MGDDY): The tire titan is tumbling 4.12% in today's European trading after incurring a post-earnings rating reduction (Neutral from Buy) at BNP Paribas.
Randgold Resources (NASDAQ:GOLD): GOLD gets downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities.
Southern Copper (NYSE:SCCO): Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowers the commodity company to Neutral from Buy.
Susser Holdings (NYSE:SUSS): The grocery giant gets downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.
Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX): Credit Suisse cuts the tech name to Neutral from Outperform.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: EMC, One of the Internet's Fabled 'Four Horsemen,' Is Off to the Races

Stock Upgrades: Hitch a Ride on Hawaiian Holdings
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