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Stock Downgrades: Anheuser-Busch Cries Into Its Beer

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

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S&P 500 (^GSPC) shares just enjoyed their best January since 1997, a month another Democratic president embarked on his second term. (The GOP symbol may be may be an elephant, but it's easy to forget that markets actually outperform under donkeys.)

Aging Game Boys still mourning last week's loss of Atari are in an even deeper funk with Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers owner Nintendo (NTDOY) now down 1.16% before the bell. It's not you, it's Wii, according to the company. In contrast Bally Technologies (BYI), which gave the world Space Invaders and Pac Man, surged 5.80%.

And Research In Motion (RIMM), about to change its name, fell a further 5.81%. 1-800-Flowers (FLWS), which rose 8.06%, would surely say that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Today at 9:55 a.m. Eastern, the University of Michigan releases its final figure for January consumer confidence and at 10:00 a.m. we get both December construction spending and the Institute for Supply Management's January manufacturing data. In earnings action, another frenzied week for fourth-quarter earnings announcements concludes with Chevron (CVX), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Mattel (MAT), Merck (MRK), Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU), Newell Rubbermaid (NWL), and Tyson Foods (TSN) all due to report results.

Alkermes (ALKS): Shares are lowered to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD): Ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl, the eighth-biggest beer drinking day of the year, Société Générale slashes the slumping brewing giant to Hold from Buy. Its potential $20 billion deal with Corona may be scuppered by the Justice Department.

Bob Evans Farms (BOBE): BOBE gets downgraded to Hold from Buy due to an uncertain margin outlook for its BEF Foods division.

Constellation Brands (STZ): Goldman gives the winemaker, down 17.39% yesterday, a Neutral-from-Buy ratings reduction.

First Cash Financial Services (FSFS): The pawnbroker is now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Glu Mobile (GLUU): GLUU gets cut to Market Perform from Outperform at Northland Securities.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD): B. Riley Caris cuts KKD to Neutral from Buy amid valuation issues.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): Citigroup takes its fellow financial to Neutral from Buy.

Life Time Fitness (LTM): LTM gets lowered to Market Perform from Outperform with William Blair, which is troubled by deteriorating member trends and a relatively week earnings outlook.

MasterCard (MA): The credit card company is moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Medical Device Makers: Concerned that orthopedic market growth will remain constrained this year, Mizuho moves Stryker (SYK) to Neutral from Buy and Zimmer (ZMH) all the way to Underperform from Buy.

Men's Wearhouse (MW): Cowen cuts the clothing company to Neutral from Outperform after its channel checks uncovered same-store-sales concerns.

Quiksilver (ZQK): The retailer is reduced to Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird, whose new price objective is $6.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A): The oil outfit is trading lower in London today on an Underperform-from-Neutral downgrade by Bank of America Merrill-Lynch.

Time Warner Cable (TWC): After a weak earnings report, TWC is taken to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank. The target price is now $99, down from $123.

United Parcel Service (UPS): Shares, now Neutral from Buy at Citi after yesterday's poor performance, are slipping further ahead of the open.

Viacom (VIAB): Piper Jaffray moves the media empire to Neutral from Overweight.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Blue Nile No Pyramid Scheme and Stock Upgrades: Profits Predicted at Oracle.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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