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Stock Downgrades: Oracle's Larry Ellison Lacks His Daughter's Knack for Hollywood Endings


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

Stock markets tend to run in cycles, so, after last year's tour de force, it is no surprise to see US equities now experiencing a Lance Armstrong-style climb down. Despite the best efforts of Dan Loeb - who is a demon on two wheels, as Bill Ackman can painfully attest - yesterday shares instead opted to take their cue from the suddenly bankrupt Citi (NYSE:C) bikes. Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) surged 6.64% after Mr. Loeb bought a $1.3 billion stake, but the Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) still dropped amid a deluge of uninspiring earnings announcements. With two wheels so dicey - notwithstanding that Ride Along is America's top movie - is it any wonder that proud son of the Nile, Mohamed El-Erian, decided to walk? (Like an Egyptian.) Hopefully he did so in a comfy pair of Steven Maddens (NASDAQ:SHOO), for the footwear firm founded by Jordan Belfort's prison buddy rode a broker boost to rise 0.45%. As for the Wolf himself, he finally fulfilled the wishes of many in taking a long walk off a short Piers. And Bill Gates essentially predicted the end of poverty by 2035 in his annual letter. (No word on when letters become extinct, but one suspects it will be long before then.) Let's hope so, although, as the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) legend also once assured us that spam would be canned in 2006, his soothsaying should be taken with some skepticism. Indeed, as we are about to see, these days there is precious little prophet in being an Oracle (NYSE:ORCL).

It's another day bereft of any top-tier economic data, but Hump Day of a busy earnings week is here. Expect quarterly results out of Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT), Coach (NYSE:COH), eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY), Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX), Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Raymond James (NYSE:RJF), SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK), United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), and Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC).

African Barrick Gold (OTCMKTS:ABGLY): HSBC Securities cuts the commodity company to Underweight from Neutral.

Arcos Dorados (NYSE:ARCO): The fast food firm, which owns lucrative McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) licenses in Latin America, is lowered to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan. Moving from the "Golden Arches" to gold itself…

Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX): Shares are now Underweight from Neutral at HSBC.

Bemis (NYSE:BMS): The stock gets downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight by Barclays. Its price objective, previously $39, is reduced by $3.

Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR): DLTR is now Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee, which also takes its target price to $56 from $63.

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK): Cowen cuts the British pharmaceutical firm to Perform from Outperform with an amended $57 objective.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (NASDAQ:GLDD): Shares are lowered to Underweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Henkel (OTCMKTS:HENKY): The German glue giant, whose shares hit the highest level in decades yesterday, gets moved to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Hologic (NASDAQ:HOLX): Shares are now Buy from Strong Buy at ISI Group.

LogMeIn (NASDAQ:LOGM): Cowen lowers LOGM to Perform from Outperform.

Mosaic (NYSE:MOS): Goldman Sachs slashes the fertilizer firm to Sell from Neutral.

Oracle: Megan Ellison is the talk of Tinseltown all of a sudden, but her father - although we should shed no tears over his bulging bank balance - appears to lack her magic touch at the moment. Today the Oracle CEO sees its stock cut to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.

Travelers (NYSE:TRV): The Dow member is now Outperform from Top Pick at RBC Capital.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ): Pacific Crest downgrades Verizon, also in the Dow, to Sector Perform from Outperform.

See also:

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