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Stock Downgrades: Profit Problem Predicted at Oracle


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

Wall Street, what more do you want? Washington avoids a government shutdown - and on a day snow shut down the government - yet still you slump. US stock markets continued their awful start to December, with the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) having now fallen in seven of its past nine sessions. There was precious little ho-ho-ho ahead of Christmas but Hoboken's own John Wiley & Sons (NYSE:JW.A) jumped 1.91% to a fresh peak, as the smart money piled into the publisher of For Dummies. (Lest anyone despair about the dumbing down of America, bookseller Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) was highly literate in gaining 2.29%.) An unloved Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) dropped 1.56% after the European Union ruled in favor of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Skype merger. That made a nice change for Mr. Gates, who took a pie in the eye the last time he went to Brussels. Rupert Murdoch's wife Wendi stopped him from suffering a similar fate before filing for divorce. Yet the Wall Street Journal owner still has egg on his face. "Fewer Companies Make Split Decisions," the newspaper announced only last week. Yesterday, MasterCard (NYSE:MA) rose 3.53% to a historic high after approving a 10-for-1 stock split. And Time magazine picked as its person of the year a Pope who far prefers Ford (NYSE:F) to General Motors (NYSE:GM). For that, he really ought to say several Hail Marys.

In terms of economic events that may move US markets today, October business inventories are seen as slipping from September's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, expect earnings announcements out of Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), Ciena Corporation (NASDAQ:CIEN), Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV), Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ:LULU), Quiksilver (NYSE:ZQK), and Restoration Hardware (NYSE:RH).

Apache (NYSE:APA): Citigroup cuts the energy company to Neutral from Buy.

Brown & Brown (NYSE:BRO): Shares are moved to Underperform from Market Perform with William Blair.

HD Supply Holdings (NASDAQ:HDS): Goldman Sachs slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.

ImmunoCellular Therapeutics (NYSEMKT:IMUC): The small cap gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at MLV & Co. Its price objective, previously $6, is now $1.25 amid disappointing data for the firm's Phase II clinical trial of ICT-107, a vaccine to treat glioblastoma multiforme.

Infinity Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:INFI): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO): Citigroup moves MRO to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Oracle (NYSE:ORCL): Double trouble for Oracle stock today, reduced by both Morgan Stanley (Equal Weight from Overweight) and RBC Capital (Perform from Outperform with a $35 target.) As a result, stock in Oracle is currently tumbling 2.61% as I write this article. Concerns include systemic woes related to cloud computing vendors.

Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE:SNI): Scripps Networks Interactive, whose 7.64% surge topped the entire S&P 500 Index yesterday, comes back down to Earth today. The Food Network owner is reduced to Perform from Outperform with an $85 price objective at RBC Capital.

Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW): Stock in paint powerhouse Sherwin-Williams is now Outperform from Top Pick at RBC, whose target is $210.

Teradata (NYSE:TDC): TDC gets target to Perform from Outperform, again at the ubiquitous RBC Capital. Its price objective, previously $55, comes down to $41.

Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN): The tech name is now Reduce from Neutral at Nomura.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Can't Afford Hilton? Check Into iRobot's Roomba and New Stock Coverage: Yelp Now a Four-Letter Word?)
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