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Stock Downgrades: Don't Be Dumb -- Get Out of Einstein


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

The thought occurs -- especially in this, the week of the Oscars -- that Kramer Versus Kramer might eventually make a useful movie title. It certainly summed up Monday's mixed blessings. Jim Cramer, exiled of late from our CNBC screens in favor of infinitely more exciting Olympic curling, returned just in time for Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) to hit its highest level since the stock market's millennial madness. Alas, the victory was a bittersweet one as Cosmo Kramer's AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL) Moviefone -- as much of a cultural icon circa 1999 as were tech stocks -- sadly passed on to 777th Heaven. On a day Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) advanced by triple digits, it did indeed appear that, as the song says, "Everyone's in love with Jennifer Lawrence," pride of Louisville. Her hometown Humana (NYSE:HUM) jumped 10.57% to easily top the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX). Meanwhile its bourbon king Brown Forman (NYSE:BF.A), up 2.67%, and Kentucky Derby owner Churchill Downs (NASDAQ:CHDN), a 2.82% gainer, each reached historic peaks. Gravity may yet deny J-Law's American Hustle an Oscar on Sunday, but Kate Upton's gravity-defying bikini was powerless to prevent Target (NYSE:TGT) ending off 0.18% after a lukewarm analyst initiation. (Completing a difficult day for the family, her great-grandfather -- inventor of Whirpool's (NYSE:WHR) washing machine -- got short shrift from the Supreme Court.) Elsewhere, eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) advanced 3.13% after an increasingly unhinged New Yorker assailed it in an open letter. Sorry, wrong one.

Today in economics, the Conference Board's consumer sentiment survey for February is forecast to fall at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, American Tower (NYSE:AMT), First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), Home Depot (NYSE:HD), and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) all release results.

Ameren (NYSE:AEE): Shares get downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays, whose amended price objective is $41.

Basic Energy Services (NYSE:BAS): Jefferies cuts the company to Underperform from Hold. Its new target price is $16.

Einstein Noah Restaurant Group (NASDAQ:BAGL): The stock, fresh from falling 1.27% even in yesterday's bull market, is now Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray. Executive turnover is an issue and its price objective, previously $20, also gets trimmed by $4.

FirstService (NASDAQ:FSRV): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities.

HSBC Holdings (NYSE:HSBC): Citigroup cuts its fellow financial firm to Neutral from Buy. On Monday, Europe's biggest bank fell 2.37% following its earnings announcement.

Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS): Shares are trading lower today after getting slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

RealPage (NASDAQ:RP): The company, whose stock is cratering some 22.06% as we speak after issuing iffy earnings guidance, is reduced to Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital. The target price is also taken lower, to $22 from $28.

RF Micro Device (NASDAQ:RFMD): Canaccord Genuity gives the tech name a Hold-from-Buy cut after yesterday's 21.00% merger-inspired advance.

Vivus (NASDAQ:VVUS): The diet drug dispenser is downgraded by both Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (Underperform from Neutral) and JPMorgan (Neutral from Overweight.) Their respective price objectives are also reduced, by $5 and $7 to $6 and $8.

See also:

New Stock Coverage: Splash the Cash on Malibu Boats (MVPRO article)

Stock Upgrades: Con Edison Can Be Your Utility Infielder (MVPRO article)
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