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Stock Downgrades: McDonald's Stock Set to Slim Down


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL In an otherwise extremely strong week for stocks, banana behemoth Dole Food (DOLE) dropped 11.6%, enough to give a monkey a midlife crisis. Educator Scholastic (SCHL) tumbled 12.88% and those who say they read Playboy for the articles - an already dubious contention, as the Average American reads at only a seventh-grade level - may want to give its current issue a miss. Marilyn Monroe once again graces its cover, and her contention that diamonds are a girl's best friend was called into serious question when jeweler Zale Corp (ZLC) cratered 29.45% in the week's final two trading sessions.

No top-tier economic data due today, but Berry Plastics (BERY), Big Lots (BIG), Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (JOSB), and Seadrill (SDRL) are all expected to post quarterly earnings.

Agrium (AGU): The fertilizer firm is taken to Neutral from Overweight at Atlantic Equities, whose concerns include valuation issues and lower nitrogen returns. The price objective is lowered to $98 from $107.

Akzo Nobel (AKZOY): Shares are trading lower in Europe today after Citigroup slashed its rating to Sell from Neutral.

Apparel: Aéropostale (ARO) is now Neutral from Buy with a $14 target at Janney, which pulls American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) from its list of Best Ideas.

Ball Corp. (BLL): Deutsche Bank downgrades the equity to Hold from Buy but its $46 price objective is intact.

Chico's FAS (CHS): The clothing company is cut to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital, which has macroeconomic concerns.

DreamWorks Animation (DWA): DWA is downgraded to Below Average from Average at Caris.

Healthcare: Robert W. Baird gives Neutral-from-Outperform ratings reductions to Vanguard Health Systems (VHS) ($12 price objective), Health Management (HMA) ($9), and Community Health (CYH) ($31).

H.J. Heinz (HNZ): Shares get downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus due to valuation.

Illumina (ILMN): Increasingly concerned about emerging competition, Robert Baird reduces its recommendation to Neutral from Outperform. Its price objective is $54.

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD): Lazard lowers the Dow (^DJI) member to Neutral from Buy at Lazard Capital, sending shares down before the bell.

Sands China (SCHYY): Shares are now Neutral from Overweight at HSBC Securities

ThyssenKrupp (TYEKF) Credit Suisse cuts the giant German conglomerate to Neutral from Outperform, sending shares lower in today's overseas trading.

VeriSign (VRSN): The tech outfit is taken to Equal Weight from Overweight at First Analysis.

Wesco Aircraft (WAIR): WAIR is downgraded substantially, to Underperform from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Research In Motion Going Places Again and New Stock Coverage: Apple Stops the Rot.)
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