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Stock Downgrades: Anheuser-Busch Set for Friday Night Hangover


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

Yesterday's Dow (^DJI) increase of only 24.50 points may not have been anything on the excitement of exactly six years earlier, but it'll do for now.

Strange bedfellows dominated the day, what with Jimmy Carter gushing over George Bush and the Wall Street Journal turning over its editorial page to a New York Times (NYT) journalist who did jail time. (Such a selfless gesture from right wing to left, and on Pay It Forward Day no less, sent shares of the Old Grey Lady surging some 5.00%.)

Elsewhere Kentucky Fried Chicken owner Yum Brands (YUM), which jumped 7.10% on Wednesday and scored an analyst upgrade 24 hours later, tumbled 2.11% after it became apparent that Colonel Sanders' favorite food was actually…White Castle.

Today in economics, consensus says April's University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey will show an improvement at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. Peak earnings week concludes with announcements expected out of Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), Burger King (BKW), Chevron (CVX), DR Horton (DHI), Goodyear Tire (GT), Honda Motor (HMC), LyondellBasell (LYB), Total SA (TOT), Tyco International (TYC), VF Corporation (VFC), and WellPoint (WLP).

Alkermes (ALKS): The stock is downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

AmerisourceBergen (ABC): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird, which trims its target to $57 from $59 after a recent run to record highs.

Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD): The brewing behemoth is slashed to Conviction Sell - surely the ultimate ignominy - from merely Sell at Goldman Sachs. Shares are lower in today's pre-market trading as a result.

Baidu Inc. (BIDU): Shares in the Chinese Internet outfit, imploding 8% before the opening bell, get downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital.

Beneficial Mutual Bancorp (BNCL): The name is now Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee.

Carpenter Technology (CRS): CRS gets cut to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Duke Realty (DRE): The stock is moved to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Embraer (ERJ): Shares are slashed to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup.

Exxon Mobil (XOM): The oil giant and key Dow (^DJI) component is now Neutral from Buy at ISI Group.

F5 Networks (FFIV): Shares are downgraded to Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital, which notes competitive threats from Intel (INTC) among others.

Hancock Holding (HBHC): The stock is now Hold from Buy with Wunderlich.

ITT Educational Services (ESI): The stock is downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Compass Point.

KLA-Tencor (KLAC): KLAC gets cut to Outperform from Buy at CLSA.

Raymond James Financial (RJF): Citigroup reduces its recommendation on RJF to Neutral from Buy.

Windstream (WIN): The equity is now Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: TherapeuticsMD Is Just What the Doctor Ordered and Stock Upgrades: Don't Throw Bebe Out With the Bath Water.)
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