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Stock Downgrades: Taking an Ax to Anixter


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

On Wall Street, any influential equity analyst able to move markets is known as an "ax." How Anixter International (NYSE:AXE) must hope that is not the case today. The industrial-equipment outfit suffers a rating reduction due to its rich valuation, uncertain acquisition prospects, and constrained multiple expansion opportunities.
While some see 1978, Mr. Market preferred to party like it was 1999. A punk labor force participation rate, at Carter administration lows, got glossed over as equities instead celebrated the best four-month stretch of employment growth since the millennium ended. Thus did both Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) and the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) finish at fresh bests. Economists, under siege of late for faulty forecasts, enjoyed one of their better weeks. It was bookended by one of their number winning plaudits for his eagle eyes on Monday, while consensus estimates for jobs Friday were off by an unusually small 2,000. My, how the mighty have fallen. Dell, the top stock of the 1990s with an astonishing 89,374% increase, fell out of Fortune 500 entirely. That list was once more topped by Walmart (NYSE:WMT) but, as Shakespeare said, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," for the Bentonville behemoth swiftly found itself ensnared in not one but two tragedies. Elsewhere, an heir's spare Stradivarius is set to go for big bucksViolin Memory (NYSE:VMEM) enjoyed an unforgettable week in surging some 16.32%, and a Goldman (NYSE:GS) alum is peddling pricey violin-shaped swimming sessions. This, even as the SEC ordered everyone out of the (dark) pool.
There aren't any top-tier economic reports released today, but Casey's General Stores (NASDAQ:CASY), Ferrellgas Partners (NYSE:FGP), Layne Christensen (NASDAQ:LAYN), and The Pep Boys-Manny Moe & Jack (NYSE:PBY) are all expected to announce release quarterly results.
Now let's look at this morning's rating reductions -- an eclectic bunch that features an American financial firm, French energy outfit, and Russian energy giant, plus headline equity Anixter International.

Anixter International: Robert W. Baird reduces its rating to Neutral from Outperform. The amended price objective is $108.
Enerplus (NYSE:ERF): Shares are slashed to Sector Perform from Outperform with a $25 target price at RBC Capital, which sees the stock as appropriately valued at current levels.
First NBC Bank (NASDAQ:NBCB): Keefe Bruyette cuts the company to Perform from Outperform.
Medley Capital Corp (NYSE:MCC): MCC gets moved to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities.
RusHydro (OTCMKTS:RSHYY): JPMorgan downgrades the Moscow-based outfit to Underweight from Equal Weight.
Total (NYSE:TOT): The French energy titan gets taken to Hold from Buy at Cannacrod Genuity.
TPG Specialty Lending (NYSE:TSLX): Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowers its investment opinion to Neutral from Buy.

Also see:
New Stock Coverage: Time Is Money

Stock Upgrades: Family Dollar Adopting Poison Pill for Uncle Carl?
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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