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Stock Downgrades: Is South Jersey Industries the Armpit of America?


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

Equities rose to records after Warren Buffett's "Mother lode" of American opportunity muscled out Mother Russia. (And believe me, no one will be happier about that than our erstwhile Communist cousins, as Moscow blows New York out of the water when it comes to billionaires. Lenin must be turning in his grave at how much the world has moved on since said river was Robin Williams' Hudson.) Amid the Dow's (INDEXDJX:.DJI) best day of the year, investors went long Joe Boxer shorts owner Iconix Brand Group (NASDAQ:ICON), whose 3.32% gain was good for a historic high. This will please Mr. Market. And, apparently, also make the ladies mighty happy. On an enormous up day, H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) somehow contrived to tumble 1.16%, which some bearded millennial in Brooklyn will no doubt find ironic. (And sorry, President Putin, even the Kremlin can't deduct bribes for tax purposes any more.)

Today in economics, a slight slippage is seen for February's Institute for Supply Management Index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. At 2:00 p.m., the Fed furnishes its Beige Book outlining regional financial conditions in a dozen districts. In earnings action, Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF.B), Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ), and PetSmart (NASDAQ:PETM) all release results.

BJ Restaurants (NASDAQ:BJRI): Shares are now Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray, which also trims its target price by $3 to $27.

Dillard's (NYSE:DDS): Credit Suisse cuts the company to Neutral from Outperform.

Essex Property (NYSE:ESS): The stock is slashed to Hold from Buy at Stifel.

Global Partners (NYSE:GLP): RBC Capital reduces its rating to Perform from Outperform with a $38 price objective. Issues include the prospect of increased regulation regarding the transportation of crude oil by railways.

Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR): LAMR gets lowered to Neutral from Conviction Buy at Goldman Sachs, which cites a steep valuation.

NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP): UBS pulls the tech name from its US Key Call list.

Silver Bay Realty Trust (NYSE:SBY): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette, whose new lower target is $17.50.

South Jersey Industries (NYSE:SJI): Dove soap doesn't, but I absolutely adore New Jersey, having grown up singing to Springsteen down by the shore. Alas, this gas utility from the Garden State today gets downgraded to Hold from Buy by Brean Capital, whose concerns include a relatively disappointing earnings outlook for 2014.

Springleaf Holdings, LLC (NYSE:LEAF): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the equity to Underperform from Neutral with an objective of $25.

Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS): Shares are showing some softness this morning after getting downgraded to Neutral from Buy at B. Riley & Co.

TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO): JPMorgan takes TIVO to Neutral from Overweight.

Also see:

Stock Upgrades: Pandora Proves MTV Was Wrong (MVPRO article)

New Stock Coverage: Even Robin Hood Bows Down to Arrowhead Research (MVPRO article)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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