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Stock Downgrades: Slap in the North Face for VF Corp


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

With Crimea in the news again, Wall Street witnessed "The Charge of the Light Brigade." Trading was indeed anemic, with only 656 million NYSE shares changing hands, and an attempted run at a new record for the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) ended in tears. Granted, Tennyson's epic poem was written in 1854, and the index encountered resistance just shy of 1853, but that's close enough for government work. For its part, the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) barely budged, despite January new-home sales hitting their highest level since July 2008 to fly in the face of "expert" economists who predicted a Polar Vortex-led plunge. (In a delicious irony, July 2008 was when NBC bought The Weather Channel.) Also that month, Chinese restaurants in Beijing were ordered not to serve dog meat during the Beijing Olympics. (Donkey meat was apparently still acceptable.) Tastes have clearly changed, however, and yesterday investors went long on Chongqing's own Country Style Cooking Restaurant Chain (NYSE:CCSC) to send it up 6.67%. LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) rose 1.41% on an analyst upgrade. The professional networking name has high hopes in the Sino sphere, but to get a job there you apparently need only chose your parents carefully. Rocky Brands (NASDAQ:RCKY) slumped 7.73% after our Secretary of State reminded Russia, "This is not Rocky IV." A few ironic hours later came the season premiere of The Americans, that tale of an antique age in the Cold War when Stars and Stripes went toe-to-toe with Hammer and Sickle. Can someone please remind Comrade Putin that "we won, they lost", to tweak the immortal formulation of Ronald Reagan?

Today at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Janet Yellen speaks before the Senate Banking Committee, restarting testimony that was snowed off on February 13. The pace of quarterly earnings announcements picks up again, with retailers coming increasingly to the fore. Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS), Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD), and Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) all release results.

AGCO Corp (NYSE:AGCO): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU): Shares, upgraded elsewhere today, are given a post-earnings downgrade to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Campus Crest Communities (NYSE:CCG): Robert W. Baird cuts the company to Neutral from Outperform after earnings came in at the low end of expectations. Its target price, previously $12, is trimmed to $9.

Clean Harbors (NYSE:CLH): The stock gets downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer amid issues in its oil re-refining operations.

Cypress Semiconductor (NASDAQ:CY): Pacific Crest takes the tech name to Perform from Outperform.

Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers its fellow financial firm to Neutral from Buy.

GameStop (NYSE:GME): GME gets downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Longbow

ITT Educational (NYSE:ESI): Shares are moved to Neutral from Buy by Bank of America-Merrill.

JAKKS Pacific (NASDAQ:JAKK): With valuation a concern yesterday's 23.22% surge, the stock is now Neutral from Buy at B. Riley & Co.

LightInTheBox (NYSE:LITB): LITB gets lowered to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.

VF Corp (NYSE:VFC): The North Face owner, beloved of the 2012 GOP presidential ticket, is now Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Western Union (NYSE:WU): SunTrust takes the firm to Reduce from Neutral. Its price objective is also cut, by $2 to $13.

See also:

New Stock Coverage: Happiness Is a Warm Gun at Urban Outfitters (MVPRO article)

Stock Upgrades: Sony, Big Back in the '70s, Aims to Reclaim Its American Hustle (MVPRO article)
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