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Stock Downgrades: ExOne Is Too Blue

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

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That 1990s comedy about nothing is in the news again and, if Jerry and George were to suddenly awaken, Rip Van Winkle-style, from 15 years of slumbering in drawers, they would find the world exactly as they left it. (Indeed, in a nice touch, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) - based in none other than Washington Irving's Tarrytown - just jumped 11.78% to top the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX).) Beanie Babies are once more hogging headlines. AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL), equally big back in Bill Clinton's heyday, surged 6.69% to an all-time high. In the crazy Kramer era (this one, not that one), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) was beloved and Benjamin Netanyahu ruled Israel. (A Silicon Valley joke of the time told of how "Netscape and Yahoo have merged, forming NetAndYahoo." Tech humor - you really had to be there.) The more things change, the more they stay the same. And Uncle Sam is now using your tax dollars to address the dreaded "shrinkage," bane of George Costanza's life. Thankfully, there was no danger of equity portfolios disappearing yesterday, as the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) helped US stock markets snap back from their recent malaise. Jeremy Piven, who actually appeared in three early episodes of Seinfeld, found himself finally vindicated. He once quit a Broadway play, claiming "shocking levels" of mercury after eating too much sushi. The news prompted David Mamet to memorably opine, amid much ridicule, that Piven had left to "pursue a career as a thermometer." Like all misunderstood geniuses, Piven wasn't wrong, but rather ahead of his time. Yesterday Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) gained 2.35% to a record best after buying a thermostat maker named Nest for $3.2 billion. In other ornithological action, investors finally stopped flipping the bird at Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), which ended up 0.67% after sliding 17% last week. And speaking of bird-in-the-hand signals, traders in Fannie (OTCBB:FNMA) and Freddie (OTCBB:FMCC) have some for you right here, buddy.

In terms of economic events that may move US stock markets today, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, the Fed releases its Beige Book, detailing regional financial conditions in a dozen districts. Regarding specific stocks, expect earnings announcements out of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX), Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST), and Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE:KMI) as the pace of quarterly reporting season picks up.

Airgas (NYSE:ARG): Goldman Sachs slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.

Beam, Inc. (NYSE:BEAM): With shares no longer trading on fundamentals following a buyout bid, SunTrust cuts the company to Neutral from Buy. Its amended price objective actually increases, however, to $83.50 from $73.

Danone (OTCMKTS:DANOY): The yogurt behemoth is lower in today's European trading after its stock was moved to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

easyJet (OTCMKTS:ESYJY): Staying in Europe, the low-cost carrier is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE): 3-D printing stock ExOne fell 5.37% yesterday, and is off another 14% today. Adding to the agony, it gets cut to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity amid a revenue shortfall. The price objective, previously $75, is slashed to $55.

Foster Wheeler (NASDAQ:FWLT): Shares are now Neutral from Buy with a $32 target at DA Davidson.

Hertz Global Holdings (NYSE:HTZ): Hertz stock, on a strong Carl Icahn-inspired run recently, is now Neutral from Buy at Goldman.

Insurance Stocks: Raymond James reduces Protective Life (NYSE:PL) to Perform from Outperform, and takes Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) to Underperform from Perform.

McGraw-Hill Financial (NYSE:MHFI): MHFI is moved to Hold from Buy with an $80 target price at The Benchmark Company, which cites challenging comparisons and a difficult industry backdrop.

Shaw Communications (NYSE:SJR): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the stock to Neutral from Buy.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN): After yesterday's 11.78% surge, it is back down to Earth for the stock today, moved to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Unilever (NYSE:UN): The consumer products powerhouse, whose brands include Axe and Ben & Jerry's, is lower in London today. This after being moved to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan, which anticipates "pressure on earnings as top-line woes should be coupled with margin pressure."

See also:

New Stock Coverage: Say "G'Day" to Morgan Stanley

Stock Upgrades: Intel Proves Only the Paranoid Survive
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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