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Stock Downgrades: Microsoft Shareholders Jumping Out of Windows


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

Black Swans? London Whales? Turns out 'twas Jaws that sunk stocks, leaving in its wake a bloody tide of red ink. John Williams journeyed to Los Angeles and, not far from the Hollywood Hills where he made his name, spooked the market with some seriously scary mood music. Oh wait, wrong John Williams, but the impact was much the same.

While equities overall went up in smoke, Marlboro man Philip Morris (PM) hit an historic high, which will have Honus Wagner turning in his grave on the day his American Tobacco Company baseball card started a bidding for the celebrated opponent of cigarettes.

Elsewhere Six Flags Entertainment (SIX) also attained a new best on bullish research. They eat cockroaches, don't they? Thanks, but I'll stick with a burrito, especially after Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) rode its own upbeat analyst assessment to end up on an otherwise brutal day.

It's a relatively quiet session for earnings releases, but International Speedway (ISCA) did report results earlier this morning.

Acuity Brands (AYI): BB&T Capital Markets cuts the company to Hold from Buy after earnings.

Aruba Networks (ARUN) Shares are now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Cheesecake Factory (CAKE): CAKE is slashed to Sell From Hold by S&P Capital IQ.

Discount Brokers: S&P Capital IQ gives Sell-from-Hold slashes to Charles Schwab (SCHW) and E*TRADE Financial (ETFC).

Domino's Pizza (DPZ): Goldman Sachs pulls the fast food from its list of Conviction Buys.

Lululemon (LULU): The currently beleaguered yoga-clothing company, reeling from the recent loss of its Chief Product Officer Sheree Waterson, is reduced to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT): The company, a key Dow (^DJI) component, is trading lower before the bell after incurring its first downgrade from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in half a decade amid concerns over Windows 8. Its rating is reduced to Neutral from Buy, and the target price gets trimmed to $33 from $35. "Six months post launch…Win 8 lacks momentum, challenging our optimism," analysts wrote in a note. The stock is slipping before today's opening bell as a result.

PepsiCo (PEP): Crédit Agricole cuts the soft drink and snack food giant to Outperform from Buy.

Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO): TMO is taken to Hold from Buy with a new $76 price objective at WallachBeth, which warns of a relatively lofty leverage ratio relative to competitors.

US Airways (LCC): Shares are moved to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill, sending it sharply lower ahead of the open.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Time to Go Apple Picking Again? and Stock Upgrades: Panera Bread Rolling in Dough.)

Minyanville Media has a business relationship with E*TRADE.
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