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Stock Downgrades: AutoNation Hits a Speed Bump


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

In a tug-of-war between PIIGS and pigs, the former unfortunately held sway. All 18 major markets in Europe fell after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned that the continent's periphery "remains in a dire situation." Markets subsequently slumped stateside, despite the best efforts of pork producer Smithfield Foods (SFD), which surged 28.42% after being bought for $4.7 billion by the land of baby bok choy.

Babies are about to arrive en masse nine months after the lights went out in Manhattan. It's just as well we can rely on Father's Little Dividend, for yield concerns are presently plaguing Big Apple electricity outfit Consolidated Edison (ED). It slumped 1.40% as an implosion in utilities extended to a fifth straight session. Banks were the only sector to end up, but little good that did De La Rue (OTCMKTS:DELRF). The world's largest printer of banknotes fell 4.32% for its worst day all year after announcing iffy revenue. Maybe the euro wasn't such a license to print money after all.

Today in economics, April pending home sales are out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In corporate earnings action, Big Lots (BIG), China Ming Yang Wind Power (MY), Costco (COST), Esterline Technologies (ESL), Fred's, Inc. (FRED), Guess (GES), Joy Global (JOY), Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF), Royal Bank of Canada (RY), and Sanderson Farms (SAFM) are all due to report results.

AutoNation (NYSE:AN): Shares are slashed to Sell from Neutral at UBS.

BlackRock (BLK): The stock is now Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

Carnival (CCL): The cruise company is trading lower in London's FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) today on the back of an Underperform-from-Neutral cut by BNP Paribas.

CGGVeritas (CGG): The oil and gas equipment outfit is slashed to Underweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Dean Foods (DF): The dairy giant gets downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

EnerSys (ENS): Ardour Capital takes the industrial electrical equipment outfit to Reduce from Hold with an amended price objective of $44. Concerns include a plump valuation and global macro headwinds.

Halliburton (HAL): Morgan Stanley moves the shares to Underweight from Equal-Weight, sending it lower ahead of the open.

Mondelez International (MDLZ): Shares are pulled from the Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs.

Noble Corporation (NE): NE is now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

PacWest Bancorp (PACW): Keefe Bruyette cuts the company to Market Perform from Outperform.

Renault (OTCMKTS:RNSDF): Shares are tumbling more than 2% overseas this morning after Goldman Sachs slashed the French car firm to Sell from Neutral. The bank believes that 2015 consensus earnings estimates appear overly optimistic.

Smithfield Foods (SFD): The pork producer, no longer trading on fundamentals following yesterday's buyout bid, is clipped to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Stanley Black & Decker (SWK): Argus takes the tool titan to Hold from Buy with a $78 target price amid macroeconomic issues.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Check Out Marriott's Five-Star Welcome and Stock Upgrades: Facebook Finds Friends.)
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