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Stock Downgrades: Bayer AG Has a Massive Headache

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

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This "Energizer (ENR) market" just keeps on going, and going, and going, with the Dow (^DJI) gaining 3.96% in July for its seventh monthly increase in eight. (Alas, Energizer itself tumbled 2.99% yesterday, so perhaps that wasn't the best analogy. The company, whose razors include Schick and Wilkinson Sword, is clearly suffering from previously clean-shaven Wall Street's sudden proliferation of beards.)

If Russia's decision to end a fertilizer cartel drove investors in the sector to vodka, at least Smirnoff owner Diageo (DEO) gained 3.2%. Its Guinness is "pure genius" and investors also bellied up to Apple's (AAPL) Genius Bar in July, as that stock advanced 14% on the month. Investors were also inebriated on Booz Allen (BAH), which surged 10.66%. Just don't expect to alleviate any resultant hangover with an Aspirin, as Bayer (BAYRY) has just been downgraded.

Today in economic data, consensus calls for an uptick in July's Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, results are released out of American International Group (AIG), BMW Group (BAMXF), ConocoPhillips (COP), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Kellogg (K), Kraft Foods (KRFT), LinkedIn (LNKD), Lloyds Banking Group (LYG), New York Times (NYT), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Société Générale (SCGLY).

AXT Inc. (AXTI): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at B. Riley.

Bayer AG (BAYRY): Société Générale slashes the Aspirin maker's stock to Sell from Hold after yesterday's earnings announcement.

BJ's Restaurants (BJRI): Roth Capital resets its rating to Neutral from Buy.

Health Management Associates (HMA): SunTrust takes the company, no longer trading on fundamentals following its $13.78 per share acquisition by Community Health (CYH), to Neutral from Buy.

Humana (HUM): Citigroup moves the managed care company to Neutral from Buy.

JC Penney Company, Inc (JCP): The firm, fresh from yesterday's 10.21% tumble, is slashed to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup. Shares are, however, rebounding impressively in today's pre-market trading after the retailer this morning refuted reports regarding CIT Group (CIT) cutting off credit to some vendors. "We do not believe that JCP has made progress in stabilizing the business in 2Q13," Citi's analyst wrote in a note.

Papa John's (PZZA): KeyBanc cuts the pizza play to Hold from Buy.

Raymond James Financial (RJF): Shares get downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: The Gap Inc. Is Dressed for Success and Stock Upgrades: It's Still Not Too Latte to Invest in Starbucks Corporation.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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