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Stock Downgrades: Frowns All Around for Colgate-Palmolive Company


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

Equities dropped, despite the admirable efforts of Don, Dan, and Doug. Mister Draper inspired a much-praised $35.1 billion advertising industry deal between Publicis (PUBGY) and Omnicom (OMC), with the newly merged entity to be called Publicis Omnicom. (Those endlessly imaginative Madison Avenue minds, I tell ya.) Mister Loeb propelled an S&P 500 (^GSPC)-best 11.77% advance in CF Industries (CF) after taking a stake in the fertilizer firm. And Mister Oberhelman saw his Caterpillar (CAT) jump 1.17% to top all Dow (^DJI) issues. Yet Mister Market remained utterly unmoved. Perhaps yesterday's stumble was merely "the pause that refreshes," to employ Coca-Cola's (KO) iconic ad copy, following five straight weeks of increases in equities. One wonders, though, how Coke - under the umbrella of Publicis - will hit it off with Pepsi (PEP) client Omnicom. Elsewhere an unloved Microsoft (MSFT) dropped again. Four years to the day after its much-ballyhooed search announcement, the company clearly still hasn't found what it's looking for.

Today in economics, The Conference Board releases its July consumer confidence index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In Washington, DC, the Federal Open Market Committee starts its two-day policy meeting. And on the earnings front, Aetna (AET), Aflac (AFL), Amgen (AMGN), Banco Santander (SAN), Barclays (BCS), BP Plc (BP), Deutsche Bank (DB), Fiat (FIATY), Goodyear (GT), Merck (MRK), NYSE Euronext (NYX), Pfizer (PFE), Symantec (SYMC), Take Two Interactive (TTWO), and UBS AG (UBS) are all due to report results.

Choice Hotels (CHH): The stock is cut to Underperform from Perform with Wells Fargo.

Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Nomura.

Corporate Office Properties (OFC): The rating is reduced to Neutral from Buy at Robert W. Baird, which also trims its target price by to $29 from $30 amid emerging issues regarding its portfolio occupancy.

Deere (DE): DE gets lowered to Neutral from Buy at Longbow.

Denny's (DENN): Roth Capital reduces its research rating to Neutral from Buy.

DR Horton (DHI): Raymond James reduces the real estate name to Underperform from Market Perform.

Elan (ELN): The health care company, no longer trading on fundamentals following an $8.6 billion buyout by Perrigo (PRGO), gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Hatteras Financial (HTS): JMP Securities moves the stock to Market Perform from Outperform.

Luminex (LMNX): LMNX is lowered to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Magellan Health (MGLN): Citigroup slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.

NASDAQ OMX Group (NDAQ): Goldman Sachs gives the exchange operator is a Sell-from-Neutral downgrade.

OpenTable (OPEN): Shares are taken to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie due to valuation among other concerns.

Potash (POT): Cantor Fitzgerald cuts the fertilizer firm to Hold from Buy.

PulteGroup (PHM): The home builder, upgraded elsewhere this morning, is also downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

SanDisk (SNDK): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Goldman. (SOHU): The stock is moved to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Spirit Airlines (SAVE): The stock is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Tenneco (TEN): TEN is taken to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA): TEVA is taken to Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Bankrate Inc Is Rated Highly and New Stock Coverage: Tumi Holdings Inc May Have Too Much Baggage.)
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