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Stock Downgrades: Is The New York Times Company a Paper Tiger?

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

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On a day the Fed was torn, stocks staggered to a split decision. The Dow (^DJI) snapped a four-session winning streak while S&P 500 (^GSPC) issues edged up after FOMC meeting minutes revealed a central bank divided almost straight down the middle. With indecision in the air, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) - which knows flip-flops - rose 1.81% to again best all blue chips after an analyst flip-flopped his opinion on the suddenly resurgent tech titan from "sell" to "buy."

Television audience analyzer Nielsen (NLSN) tumbled 2.04%, with investors concerned about how viewers of a new channel dedicated to dogs will register their approval. Hedge funds finally got the green light to advertise, although given their utterly punk performance, an embarrassed silence may be the better option. And New York's Scholastic (SCHL), which surged 9.59% last week, jumped another 1.97%. Alas elsewhere on the island,educators could clearly use a brush up on the basics.

Today's quarterly earnings announcements are expected to include Bank of The Ozarks (OZRK), Commerce Bancshares (CBSH), Progressive (PGR), and Washington Federal (WAFD).

Arkansas Best Corporation (ABFS): Citigroup cuts the trucking titan to Neutral from Buy.

ARMOUR Residential REIT, Inc. (ARR): The real estate investment trust is reduced to Underperform from Neutral by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Avago Technologies Ltd (AVGO): Shares get taken to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (CLF): The country's largest iron ore producer, having already slid some 63.79% in the past year, is downgraded to Underperform form Perform at CIBC World Markets.

DeVry Inc. (DV): Stifel slashes the education equity to Hold from Buy.

Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (FDO): Barclays downgrades the discount retailer to Equal Weight from Overweight. Valuation is a concern after yesterday's 7.11% surge bested all S&P 500 (^GSPC) issues and sent the stock to a seven-month high.

Health Management Associates Inc (HMA): The stock is cut to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Jive Software Inc (JIVE): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS): Oppenheimer lowers LPS to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.

On Assignment, Inc. (ASGN): The staffing stock is slashed to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

ON Semiconductor Corp (ONNN): Jefferies reduces its rating to Hold from Buy.

Sprint Nextel Corporation (S): Citigroup takes the telecom stock, upgraded elsewhere this morning, to Neutral from Buy.

The New York Times Company (NYT): NYT is now Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays. Shares, up 67.83% in the past year having hit a fresh 52-week peak yesterday, are now seen as somewhat stretched.

Transocean LTD (RIG): RIG is reduced to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Union Pacific Corporation (UNP): Raymond James reduces the railroad, down 1.12% yesterday, to Market Perform from Outperform.

Wynn Resorts, Limited (WYNN): Morgan Stanley moves the casino stock to Underweight from Equal-Weight.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Amazon.com, Inc.'s Money Tree Appears Utterly Unshakable and Stock Upgrades: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Is on the March.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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