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Stock Downgrades: Guess?, Inc. Not Dressing Enough Families in Corduroy and Denim

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

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Maybe it was Elmore Leonard, who always did have a mischievous sense of humor, messing with us from beyond the grave but yesterday Nasdaq (^IXIC) went nowhere until the 3:10 to Yuma belatedly showed up. The tech-heavy index found itself frozen for three hours and 11 minutes, although lost in the shuffle was Dow Industrials (^DJI) managing to avoid their first seven-session skid since August of 2011. Patterson Companies (NASDAQ:PDCO) tumbled 2.40%, as the maker of everything from toothbrushes to inter-oral cameras did nothing to redeem the awful reputation of dentists, currently taking a fresh hit from Blue Jasmine.

Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) jumped 3.10% but question marks fared less well as Guess? (NYSE:GES) gapped down 4.13%. (Although the equivocal punctuation mark helped rescue this headline as Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) shrugged off an iffy analyst initiation to surge some 6.25%.) And Men's Wearhouse (NYSE:MW) might want to start welcoming the fair sex after Women's Wear Daily inspired a 1.99% advance in that stock.

This morning in economics, analysts expect to see a slight slippage in July new home sales at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Ann Inc (NYSE:ANN), Destination XL Group (NASDAQ:DXLG), Foot Locker (NYSE:FL), and Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB) are the pick of a quiet Friday for quarterly results.

Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF): Fresh from yesterday's 17.67% slide, Robert W. Baird cuts the clothing company to Neutral from Buy. Concerns include soft sales and margins arising from an intensely competitive teen retail promotional environment. The target price is taken to $42 from $59.

Aéropostale (NYSE:ARO): Adolescent angst at the troubled teen retailer, today taken to Underperform from Neutral by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. The stock is slumping 13.7% as I write this.

Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI): After an analyst transition, Deutsche Bank downgrades the commodity company to Hold from Buy.

Brookfield Asset Management (BAM): The money manager is moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Dendreon (NASDAQ:DNDN): Noting that the company's debt will come due in 2016, Deutsche Bank slashes the biotech to Sell from Hold. Shares are subsequently sliding 6% in today's pre-market trading.

Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS): The stock, among a number of retailers to have reported disappointing results of late, is reduced to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer. The price objective, previously $56, goes to $44 amid recent sales softness and "acute product issues."

General Growth Properties (NYSE:GGP): BMO Capital Markets moves the retail Real Estate Investment Trust to Market Perform from Outperform.

Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI): Citigroup slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.

Guess?, Inc. (NYSE:GES): Maybe David Sedaris would find it funny but yesterday's depressing 4.13% fall in the denim-clad clothing company today forces an analyst to cut the cord. Shares are now Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray. A "barrage" of bad news among specialty retailers, many of whom receive identical ratings reductions elsewhere this morning, is a key factor behind Piper's more cautious stance.

Jiayuan.com (NASDAQ:DATE): The "Match.com of China" is taken to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer after Thursday's 2.93% tumble. The bank does not envisage a sustained snap-back in margins and growth any time soon.

Pandora Media (NYSE:P): The online radio company, sliding some 6% this morning after announcing earnings, is moved to Hold from Buy at Stifel. Subscriber revenue growth is seen as subsiding and this, combined with a premium valuation following the stock's stellar recent run, is behind the rating reset.

Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS): Credit Suisse adds to the office supply retailer's wretched week with a Neutral-from-Outperform cut.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: BancorpSouth, Inc. About to Head North and Stock Upgrades: Autodesk, Inc. Is Sitting Pretty.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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