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Stock Downgrades: ConAgra's Prospects Appear Slim, Jim


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

The pickings are certainly slim for Slim Jim owner ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG) at the moment. Yesterday the company, whose other brands include Chef Boyardee and Hunt's Ketchup, cratered an S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX)-worst 7.25% even as the benchmark bourse rose to records. ConAgra cut its earnings outlook, citing softness in private label offerings among other issues.
Stocks soared on the wings of a dove. (That would be Janet Yellen. Dov Charney, whose firing at American Apparel (NYSEMKT:APP) sent that stock sinking 1.54% amid the exuberance, enjoyed no such luck.) The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose to its 20th record of 2014 on inflation comments from the Federal Reserve chief that were even less hawkish than those of her predecessor. Marissa Mayer, who just appropriated President Obama's "Yes we Cannes," inspired Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) to a 1.48% advance. Mind you, Potus also enjoyed a pretty profitable day. While the Fed chair pontificated, our Commander in Chief charged his beloved BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) on a solar-powered bench and promptly saw the fallen tech titan jump 2.98% ahead of earnings, even as SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) shrugged off a rating reduction to rise 0.34%.
Today in economic data, May leading indicators and the Philadelphia Fed index for June are each released at 10:00 a.m. EDT. On the earnings front, BlackBerry, Kroger (NYSE:KR), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD), and Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC) all announce earnings.
Now let's look at this morning's rating reductions, an eclectic bunch that features a French airline firm and British telecom titan plus headline stock ConAgra Foods.

Air France-KLM (OTCMKTS:AFLYY): UBS slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.
Bill Barrett (NYSE:BBG): Due to valuation concerns after a strong recent run-up, shares are now Neutral from Buy with a $28 target price at Mizuho.
Canon (NYSE:CAJ): Jefferies cuts the Japanese consumer electronics giant to Hold from Buy.
ConAgra Foods: Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowers today's headline equity by an unusual 180 degrees, all the way to Underperform from Buy. Its price objective is $30.
Measurement Specialties (NASDAQ:MEAS): The company, whose shares no longer trade on fundamentals after being bought, is cut to Hold from Buy at Needham.
NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA): The tech name is slipping this morning after being taken to Underperform from Neutral by Bank of America Merrill.
Polypore International (NYSE:PPO): Wedbush reduces its rating to Neutral from Outperform.
Trulia (NYSE:TRLA): TRLA is taken to Sector Perform from Outperform with a $45 objective at RBC Capital, which sees more compelling current value elsewhere in the Internet space.
Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD): Bank of America Merrill moves the English telecom outfit to Neutral from Buy.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Keurig Green Mountain Not Worth Hill of Beans?

Stock Upgrades: Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer Sit Well With La-Z-Boy
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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