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Stock Downgrades: Krispy Kreme Disappears Down Doughnut Hole

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

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With stocks on a roller coaster ride all week, no wonder that amusement park operator Cedar Fair (FUN) hit the highest level in its entire history yesterday. (Although in a delicious irony, it did so by ending exactly unchanged on another day of immense turmoil in equities.)

Also bucking a bad tape was toy maker Mattel (MAT), which advanced 1.86% to a fresh peak of its own. Its Barbie once notoriously complained, "Math is hard." Not for fellow blonde Marissa Mayer of Yahoo (YHOO) it ain't. She graduated with honors from Stanford University with dual degrees in symbolic systems and computer science, thank you very much, and just saw her stock score an upgrade to boot.

Margaret Thatcher, who aced chemistry at Oxford University, was a conviction politician and once said of wishy-washy political peers: "Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous. You get knocked down by the traffic from both sides." Looking at slumping auto sales in the continent of Europe she had no time for anyway, the Iron Lady remained relevant even on the day of her funeral.

Today in economics, April's Philadelphia Fed Index and March consumer confidence are each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, African Barrick Gold (PINK:ABGLY), Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), Google (GOOG), International Business Machines (IBM), Microsoft (MSFT), Morgan Stanley (MS), Nokia (NOK), PepsiCo (PEP), Philip Morris (PM), Union Pacific (UNP), United Healthcare (UNH), and Verizon (VZ) are all due to release results.

Alkermes (ALKS): Shares in the drug delivery outfit, which surged 16.09% in yesterday's weak market, are downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Mizuho, whose target price is also trimmed by $4 to $26. The next major catalyst, ALKS9070 Phase III data, is not due before the fourth quarter, and as such the stock may now be ahead of itself.

Apache (APA): The energy outfit is now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan and Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer ($95 price objective), which says its exposure to penitential turmoil in Egypt is a concern. Shares are lower ahead of the open as a result of the dual downgrades.

eBay Inc. (EBAY): Macquarie moves the online auctioneer, lower ahead of the open after announcing earnings, to Neutral from Outperform.

ESCO Technologies (ESE): Oppenheimer downgrades the equity to Perform from Outperform due to their view that fiscal 2013 revenues will fall short previous projections by $40 million to $50 million, among other issues.

East West Bancorp (EWBC): BMO Capital moves the company to Market Perform from Outperform.

FedEx (FDX): RBC Capital, which this morning raised rival United Parcel Service (UPS), cuts its competitor to Underperform from Sector Perform.

Huntington Bancshares (HBAN): The stock is now Neutral from Buy at Compass Point, whose price objective is $8 amid ongoing pressure on mortgage banking income.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (NYSE:KKD): Shares have surged some 97.94% in the past 12 months but today the sweet treat gets taken to Neutral from Outperform with Wedbush.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Travelers on Road to Riches and Stock Upgrades: UPS Can Deliver for Investors.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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