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Stock Downgrades: Annie's Inc Is No Stock for (Widows and) Orphans


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

Kate Upton can't compete with Kate Middleton. The two-time Sports Illustrated cover girl has been awesome for equities but it was yesterday's royal birth that pushed the S&P 500 (^GSPC) to its 23rd historic high of 2013. Turning from wee bairns to old fogies, graybeards quite literally took center stage as 77-year-old Carl Icahn, sporting the latest line in designer stubble, saw the Federal-Mogul (FDML) he controls surge some 30.62% in its best showing since October 2008. Yahoo (YHOO), which topped the S&P 500 on Wednesday, fell 4.29% on Monday to post the index's poorest performance, thanks to Dan Loeb - who knows better than most that success is cyclical. And UBS AG (UBS) jumped 3.22% to a two-year high after settling a $745 million suit. Funny, one would think that the firm famous for its 44-page dress codes wouldn't mind being so outfitted.

A quite quiet week in economics continues, with no top-tier data due this morning. By contrast, this is the single busiest spell for Q2 earnings announcements, with Altria (MO), Apple (AAPL), AT&T, Inc. (T), Broadcom (BRCM), Discover Financial Services (DFS), DuPont (DD), Electronic Arts (EA), Travelers (TRV), United Parcel Service (UPS), and United Technologies (UTX) all among companies reporting results today.

Annie's Inc (BNNY): Shares are now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

AXIS Capital (AXS): Shares are lowered to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Bank of Marin (BMRC): DA Davidson downgrades the financial firm to Neutral from Buy.

DeVry (DV): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal-Weight from Overweight.

easyJet (ESYJY): The budget airline is taken to Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG): The accommodation outfit is now Neutral from Buy at BNP Paribas.

ISIS Pharmaceuticals (ISIS): Piper Jaffray reduces its rating to Underweight from Neutral.

Netflix (NFLX): Shares, off sharply ahead of the opening bell after announcing earnings, are now Hold from Buy with a $260 price objective at Cantor Fitzgerald. The stock, trading at 40.3 times EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) based on fiscal year 2013 estimates after a record run, is now viewed as fairly valued.

PNC Financial (PNC): Sterne Agee slashes the stock to Neutral from Buy amid expectations for moderating earnings growth into 2014 and 2015.

Regional Banks: Keefe Bruyette cuts Metrocorp Bancshares (MCBI) and Northwest Bancshares (NWBI), both now Perform from Outperform.

Sally Beauty (SBH): Sterne Agee slashes the stock to Neutral from Buy.

TravelCenters of America (TA): TA gets taken to Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

Yahoo (YHOO): Troubled by Dan Loeb's Third Point selling a substantial stake, Needham cuts the company to Hold from Buy. It sees fair value for the stock in the $29 per share range.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Is Noodles & Co Already Pasta Its Peak? and Stock Upgrades: Fishing for Chips? Try Texas Instruments Incorporated.)
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