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Stock Downgrades: General Electric All Out Of Juice

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

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After the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) and S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) each ended December 31, 2013 at records, US stock markets slumped on January 2, 2014. What on Earth occurred in the interim? Some say the Apocalypse arrived in the form of Greece assuming the European Union presidency on New Year's Day. Or maybe it was its nemesis neighbor Cyprus, that "sunny place for shady people," that caused Wall Street so much woe last spring, airing the wrong message on the stroke of midnight to ring in the new year. Contrarians contend it was "Dr. Doom" suddenly turning more bullish that caused yesterday's slump. Whatever the reason, we took a Hot Tub Time Machine (if the sex-crazed economist will forgive the phrase) to 2008, the last time blue chips began a year with a drop. (An ominous omen? Just sayin.') The deluge started in France, where a key manufacturing index slumped to a seven-month low. (Little wonder the country's president can't get anyone to shake his hand.) On an otherwise awful day in equities, gaga was the way to go. Lady Gaga's concert promoter Live Nation (NYSE:LYV) rode a broker boost to gain 1.52%. Coty (NYSE:COTY), which makes her Monster perfume that she says "smells like an expensive hooker," rose 2.10%. And Le Gaga (NASDAQ:GAGA) surged some 7.12%. Still, as it is a purveyor of leafy vegetables, Chinese cabbage, and baby bok choy, the pop princess would likely run a mile in her meat dress to disown it.

There isn't any top-tier economic data that may move US markets today, but Fed head Ben Bernanke, set to give a speech in Philadelphia at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, is among a plethora of central-bank speakers. Regarding specific stocks, Lindsay Corporation (NYSE:LNN) missed earnings expectations when it released fiscal first-quarter results earlier this morning.

ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH): The British chip company, a key Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) supplier, gets cut to Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Chubb (NYSE:CB): The insurance outfit is now Neutral from Buy at Janney.

General Electric (NYSE:GE): More bad news for General Electric, whose stock slumped 1.89% in posting one of the Dow's (INDEXDJX:.DJI) poorest performances. Citing an already adequate valuation, Oppenheimer downgrades the blue chip to Perform from Outperform.

IPC The Hospitalist Company (NASDAQ:IPCM): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Jamba (NASDAQ:JMBA): General Electric isn't the only outfit out of juice this morning, for this smoothie firm is now Neutral from Outperform with Wedbush. Shares are slumping as we speak.

Joy Global (NYSE:JOY): Frowns all around for Joy Global today, for its stock gets slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

MeadWestvaco (NYSE:MWV): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the paper and packaging name to Neutral from Buy.

Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU): Micron Technology stock surged some 243.53% last year, enough to make it one of the top-five performers in the entire S&P 500 Index. With its valuation subsequently so stretched, RBC Capital reduces its rating to Sector Perform from Outperform. Its price objective is now $19.

Moog Inc. (NYSE:MOG.A): Shares are now Sector Perform from Outperform with a new $70 target price at RBC Capital.

Owens-Illinois (NYSE:OI): Bank of America-Merrill moves the company to Neutral from Buy.

Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU): The stock is now Neutral from Buy at Janney.

Sprint (NYSE:S): With two downgrades in as many days, Sprint stock is hardly off to the races in 2014. Shares are slipping further this morning after being slashed to Sell from Hold at Stifel, mainly on account of an excessive valuation.

Sonoco Products (NYSE:SON): Bank of America-Merrill moves the stock to Neutral from Buy.

Utilities: Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED), whose bills are the bane of every New Yorker's life, is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup, which inflicts Sell-from-Neutral slashes upon nuclear power play Exelon (NYSE:EXC) as well as FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE).

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Go Long on China Distance Education and Stock Upgrades: Shock Jock Howard Stern Still Making 'Friends' for Sirius XM)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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