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Stock Downgrades: Crocs Takes a Walk on the Wild Side

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

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When even Miley Cyrus keeps her clothes on in an appearance at Cipriani Wall Street, there was never any danger of investors losing their shirts to naked short selling last week. Instead, the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) rose to a new record. Among stocks on the move, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) jumped 3.4% because, well, when you are trying to be an innovative tech company, having a 77-year-old write a letter urging share buybacks is exactly want you need to hear. Elsewhere American Express (NYSE:AXP), headquartered in New York's World Financial Center, finished Friday at the highest level in its history, a touching tribute to Paul Reichmann, who died the same day and put the edifice on the map. Tom Brady has a hand injury but the Ugg boot-endorser saw Deckers Outdoor (NASDAQ:DECK) surge some 17.61%. Regardless of what is on one's foot, taking A Random Walk Down Wall Street will never be such fun again, now that we can't do it on the wild side. Rest in peace, Lou Reed.

This morning in economic data, September pending home sales are due at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the corporate front, just under half of the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) have now released quarterly results. Today's announcements are expected to include América Móvil (NYSE:AMX), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB), Herbalife (NYSE:HLF), Linn Energy (NASDAQ:LINE), Loews Corporation (NYSE:L), Masco (NYSE:MAS), Merck (NYSE:MRK), Riverbed Technology (NASDAQ:RVBD), Seagate Technology (NYSE:STX), and TNT Express (OTCMKTS:TNTEY).

ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH): The Benchmark Company slashes this chip stock, a key Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) supplier, to Hold from Buy. Its price target is also taken lower, by $4 to $50.

Audience (NASDAQ:ADNC): Shares are now Hold from Buy at Benchmark amid the broker's less optimistic outlook on the overall semiconductor sector.

Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU): The Chinese Internet outfit is now Hold from Buy at BNP Paribas.

Boeing (NYSE:BA): Buckingham Research reduces the key Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component, which hit the highest level in its history last week, to Neutral from Buy.

Choice Hotels (NYSE:CHH): Robert W. Baird reduces its rating to Underperform from Neutral, citing both comparatively slow growth and a relatively rich stock valuation. (Note that shares also scored an upgrade today.)

Crocs, Inc. (NASDAQ:CROC): The maker of colorful plastic clogs gets cut to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray, whose concerns include increased discounting and "choppy" recent trends in the US.

Exelon (NYSE:EXC): Goldman Sachs slashes the nuclear power play to Sell from Neutral.

Lear Corporation (NYSE:LEA): LEA is lowered to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Lloyds Banking Group (NYSE:LYG): Investec takes the British financial firm to Hold from Buy.

Owens Corning (NYSE:OC): The building materials name is now Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG): Shares are reduced to Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

SandRidge Permian Trust (NYSE:PER): RBC Capital Markets moves the stock to Underperform from Sector Perform. Its price objective, previously $17, is now $14.

Shoe Carnival (NASDAQ:SCVL): The footwear firm, previously Buy, is now Neutral at Sterne Agee.

Transocean (NYSE:RIG): Goldman lowers the oil services outfit to Sell from Neutral.

Trimble Navigation (NASDAQ:TRMB): TRMB is taken to Hold from Buy at Needham.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: AstraZeneca Has It Covered From A to Z and New Stock Coverage: Fate Therapeutics Leaves Nothing to Chance)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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