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Stock Downgrades: Analyst Throws the Book at Amazon


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

Blue chips rose for a ninth straight session. Such a momentous run most recently occurred in November 1996, an unimaginably distant age when stocks were booming under a newly reelected Democratic president, while Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera were still in pinstripes.

That month Bob Dole was recovering from an election drubbing but Dole Food (DOLE) slipped on a banana skin of its own and nosedived 9.04%. Amid yet another record in equities, the second lowest NYSE volume of 2013 and a second day of infinitesimal increases in the Dow (^DJI) may suggest jaded shareholders have seen this movie before.

If so, Netflix (NFLX) says "bring it on." The stock surged 5.63% to top all S&P 500 (^GSPC) issues.

Elsewhere the Dreamliner nightmare appears over for Boeing (BA), as it was upgraded along with DreamWorks Animation (DWA), which advanced 8.43%. And with all eyes on a Papal conclave in Rome, investors came both to bury and praise its ancient emperor. Cemetery stock StoneMor Partners (STON) jumped 2.28% while Caesars Entertainment (CZR) gained 8.79%.

Today's earnings announcements are due to include Aéropostale (ARO), Deutsche Lufthansa (PINK:DLAKY), Dynegy (DYN), Ulta Salon (ULTA), and Volkswagen (PINK:VLKPY).

Airgas (ARG): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal-Weight from Overweight.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN): Shares are downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan, which takes its price target to $300 from $333. Concerns include "more material deceleration" in gross profit growth and slowing third party sales. Shares are lower before the bell as a result.

Amdocs (DOX): DOX is downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer due to valuation issues.

Centene Corp. (CNC): JPMorgan moves the health care plan provider to Neutral from Overweight.

Con-way (CNW): The trucking titan gets taken to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Eaton Corporation (ETN): Shares of the industrial equipment outfit are downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

E*TRADE Financial (ETFC): Keefe Bruyette cuts the company to Underperform from Market Perform with price objective of $10 amid dilution fears arising from a 27.4 million share offering.

Geron (GERN): GERN gets downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

Gildan Activewear (GIL): Troubled by issues in the company's Branded Apparel business, DA Davidson downgrades GIL to Neutral from Buy.

Hot Topic (HOTT): Piper takes the stock to Neutral from Overweight.

Lufkin Industries (LUFK): LUFK gets lowered to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

Progressive (PGR): The insurance outfit is reduced to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital, whose updated target is $25.

Vera Bradley (VRA): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform by William Blair due to overly optimistic earnings guidance in what remains a transition year for the fashion firm

Walter Investment Management (WAC): The stock is moved to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette.

Western Asset Mortgage (WMC): Citing a full valuation, Compass Point lowers its rating to Neutral from Buy with a $22.50 target price.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: JC Penney Might Be Worth a Wooden Nickel After All and Stock Upgrades: Coca-Cola Set for Nice Pop.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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