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Stock Downgrades: More Misery for Microsoft Corporation

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

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The birth of a future king in the land of tea drinkers dominated last week, so it figured that a coffee company whose logo crowns a queen - and one whose relationship with the Mother Country is awfully fraught - would steal the show. Starbucks (SBUX) surged some 6.6%, topping the S&P 500 (^GSPC) in finishing at an all-time high on Friday. Shares overall were a lot less caffeinated, although the major indices did eke out new nominal bests in sluggish summer trading.

A $575 million intimate apparel deal sent underwear outfit Hanesbrands (HBI) up 14.43%. It has now gained an astonishing 900% since the market made a Haines bottom- no relation - in March 2009. Alas, with stocks scraping the sky, the Empire State Building is proving a tougher sell than many imagined. The fabled edifice deserves far better, and today's New Yorker cover adds immeasurable insult to its injury.

Today in economics, June pending home sales are out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, expect announcements out of Anadarko Petroleum (APC), Caesars Entertainment (CZR), Danone (DANOY), Express Scripts (ESRX), Franklin Resources (BEN), Hartford Financial (HIG), Herbalife (HLF), Hertz (HTZ), Plum Creek Timber (PCL), Ryanair (RYAAY), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), and Wynn Resorts (WYNN).

Air Products (APD): Shares get downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Crédit Agricole (CRARY): The French financial firm is tumbling about 2% overseas today after JPMorgan cut it to Neutral from Overweight.

Expedia (EXPE): Lazard lowers the online travel outfit to Neutral from Buy.

FLIR Systems (FLIR): The stock is moved to Underweight from Equal Weight with JP Morgan.

ING Group (ING): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at BTIG Research.

Lear Corporation (LEA): LEA gets lowered to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): The company, a key Dow (^DJI) component, is now Neutral from Overweight at Atlantic Equities. The Servers and Windows franchises remain serious concerns. Shares are, accordingly, edging off before the bell.

Regional Banks: First Community (FCBC) and Washington Banking Co. (WBCO) are each moved to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette.

RF Micro Devices (RFMD): Shares are taken to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Riverbed Technology (RVBD): RVBD gets reduced to Market Perform from Outperform at Northland Capital, as Granite sales are not seen providing a near-term revenue growth catalyst.

Ryanair (RYAAY): The budget British airline gets downgraded to Underperform from Neutral by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

T. Rowe Price (TROW): TROW is taken to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Wet Seal (WTSL): Shares are reduced to Neutral from Buy at B. Riley.

Whole Foods (WFM): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at Cantor Fitzgerald, with valuation concerns weighing ahead of Wednesday afternoon's earnings announcement.

WNS (Holdings) (WNS): The stock is now Neutral from Buy at Robert W. Baird.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Publicis Groupe Gets Plaudits as Wall Street Goes Gaga for Madison Avenue and New Stock Coverage: 3D Systems Corporation Is a License to Print Money.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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