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Stock Downgrades: GNC Holdings Forgot to Take Its Vitamins


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

It was indeed a fateful Friday the 13th for GNC Holdings (NYSE:GNC), with the maker of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements ending the week with a 5.51% fall. The news that its Chief Financial Officer Michael M. Nuzzo was calling it quits spooked investors, and is a key reason for its rating reduction this morning. A precipitous plunge in comparable sales adds to analyst concerns.
Even as the father of communism was openly ridiculed in Eastern Europe, Western-style capitalism endured a week to forget. Jump Street fared far better than did Wall, with the Dow Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) and S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) each ending down on increased geopolitical uncertainty. Supply concerns in Iraq saw oil surge 4.1% to a 2014 high, although a recently deceased proponent of inexhaustible petroleum did not live to see it. Mohamed El-Erian took to the salmon-colored Financial Times to say it is "Time to take some chips off the table" but they better not be Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC), after the Silicon Valley semiconductor stock surged 6% for its best week in three years on dual analyst upgrades. Uber, another Bay Area icon, had London cabbies hyperventilating in the land of fish and chips. Alas, even Paul the Octopus -- fresh from bringing traffic to a similar standstill in England's capital -- couldn't have predicted that the national team's physiotherapist would dislocate his ankle celebrating a soccer goal against Italy. The Brits say we Americans don't get irony, but I am pretty sure that qualifies.
Today's quarterly earnings announcements include Korn/Ferry International (NYSE:KFY) and Layne Christensen (NASDAQ:LAYN).
Now let's look at this morning's rating reductions, an eclectic bunch featuring an Irish medical-device maker and European aerospace outfit plus headline stock GNC Holdings.

Covidien (NYSE:COV): The medical-device maker gets moved to Market Perform from Outperform by William Blair. The stock, surging some 35.10% ahead of the open after being bought by Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) for $42.9 billion, no longer trades on fundamentals.
GNC Holdings: Robert W. Baird reduces its rating to Neutral from Outperform and establishes a price objective of $39.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NASDAQ:NCLH): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at SunTrust.
RenaissanceRe (NYSE:RNR): JMP Securities trims its investment assessment to Perform from Outperform.
Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO): The World Cup appears to have put a hex on Brazil's commodity companies. Today Rio Tinto gets taken to Hold from Buy at Investec.
Rolls Royce (OTCMKTS:RYCEY): Société Générale slashes the aerospace outfit to Sell from Hold.
SouFun Holdings (NYSE:SFUN): SFUN is now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Is American Express a House of Cards?

Stock Upgrades: Medtronic, Minnesota Strong Since 1949, Now Says 'Kiss Me, I'm Irish'

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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