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Stock Downgrades: Lady Luck Leaving Las Vegas Sands?


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

Ominous omens abound: September has historically been the single worst month in the market, we just marked five years since the fall of Lehman Brothers, and last week's trading concluded on Friday the 13th. Yet equities still climb inexorably upward. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) was the poorest performing major index, yet it still advanced 1.70% to its highest level since the autumn of 2000. (In that antediluvian era, paper chads decided elections, but technology has thankfully taken us to a new age at the ballot box.) Back then, Eliot Spitzer, whose comeback attempt ended last week, took an analyst to task for calling Internet Capital Group "a disaster" in private even while urging the public to purchase. The company, which now answers to the name of ICG Group (NASDAQ:ICGE), just jumped 12.99% so William Faulkner's line - "The past is never dead. It's not even past" - rings truer than ever. Especially at Wendy's (NASDAQ:WEN), which isn't averse to exhuming its deceased founder in advertising campaigns and surged some 9.44%.

Arkansas Best (NASDAQ:ABFS): Deutsche Bank downgrades the company to Hold from Buy.

Casino Companies: ISI Group gives Neutral-from-Buy downgrades to Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN).

ChinaEdu (NASDAQ:CEDU): Piper Jaffray reduces its investment assessment to Neutral from Buy.

EZchip Semiconductor Ltd. (NASDAQ:EZCH): Shares, which slumped late last week, are today taken to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer, which regards consensus earnings estimates as overly optimistic.

European Pharmaceuticals: GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) gets downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays, which cuts Novartis (NYSE:NVS) to Underweight from Equal Weight.

Gigamon (NYSE:GIMO): Raymond James reduces the networking name to Market Perform from Outperform.

Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV): The homebuilder is cut to Underperform from Sector Perform at FBN

MedAssets (NASDAQ:MDAS): MDAS gets moved to Neutral from Buy at Lazard.

Prologis (NYSE:PLD): The industrial real estate investment trust is taken to Hold from Buy at Stifel.

Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI): Citigroup slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.

Under Armour Inc (NYSE:UA): Shares are now Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Bristol-Myers Is Just What the Doctor Ordered and New Stock Coverage: Argentina Cries for Arcos Dorados.)
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