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Stock Downgrades: Ryder Reaches End of the Road

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

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Sadly, it may be time for the iconic yellow trucks of Ryder System (NYSE:R) to be taken away in a Big Yellow Taxi. The rental titan has seen its stock surge 37.45% in the past 12 months alone, and hit the highest level in its history on April 4. A resultant toppy valuation is the key reason why analysts at Stifel opted to turn less constructive today. They say that weather issues and network disruptions represent additional concerns, and would wait until about the $70 share price point before becoming more bullish on Ryder.
 
Turning to yesterday's market action, the omens weren't overly auspicious. The Economic Club of New York was founded in 1907, a catastrophic year for finance. Its headquarters are in the Empire State Building, whose construction started in Wall Street's annus horribilis of 1929. Yet Janet Yellen's inaugural speech on Fed policy at that august institution sent shares surging and enabled the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) to climb back into the green for 2014. Stocks got an early boost from strong overnight economic data out of Beijing, but Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), whose Merrill Lynch unit has always been a bull in China's shop (well, at least until recently) enjoyed no halo effect and ended off 1.59% amid unending charges arising out of the financial crisis. Mother Merrill's short-lived CEO at that time went by the nickname "iRobot" even as he proved all too human. Fortunately for Mr. Thain, iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) finally managed to snap an eight-session skid and advanced 3.91%. The likeliest reason for its recent decline? Chalk yet another one up to the cover curse, this time at The Economist.
 
Speaking of economists, practitioners of the dismal science are expecting April's Philadelphia Fed Index to show an improvement today at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the corporate front, a battery of earnings announcements include Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) duo DuPont (NYSE:DD) and General Electric (NYSE:GE), who each released results earlier. The bond market closes early today at 2:00 p.m., and the NYSE won't open tomorrow in observance of Good Friday.
 
Now let's turn to this morning's rating reductions, an eclectic bunch that includes a media and medical outfit in addition to Ryder System.

Meredith (NYSE:MDP): The media name is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.
 
Ryder System: Shares are slashed to Hold from Buy at Stifel.
 
Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch moves its rating to Neutral from Buy.
 
Southern Company (NYSYE:SO): Shares are slashed to Sector Perform from Outperform with an amended price objective of $46 at RBC Capital Markets, which cites valuation issues and regulatory prospects in Mississippi.
 
The Medicines Co (MDCO): Leerink Partners lowers its investment assessment to Perform from Outperform.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Unforgettable Day for Flash Memory Maker SanDisk

Stock Upgrades: Can Netflix, Its Development Recently Arrested, Stop Falling Like a House of Cards?
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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