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Stock Downgrades: No Hollywood Ending for Netflix


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Let the French worry about Doomsday Mountain - us Americans hurtle obliviously on towards the fiscal cliff. A society which spends its time searching for Kim Kardashian and honoring Honey Boo Boo is unlikely to be overly troubled by anything as trivial as a $16 trillion debt. So it was that stocks rose despite another day without a concrete deal in DC to solve our upcoming financial calamity.

Insurance outfit Travelers (TRV) jumped 4.92%, its iconic umbrella apparently providing ample protection from some $650 million in Superstorm Sandy costs. We lost a legend of jazz who was banned from listening to the radio by his mother. She firmly believed that if you wanted to hear music, you should play it. Wise advice indeed on a day Pandora (P) plunged 17.46%.

It's a quiet morning in economic data but quarterly earnings announcements are expected out of Analogic (ALOG), Cooper Companies (COO), Esterline Technologies (ESL), H&R Block (HRB), Lululemon Athletica (LULU), Methode Electronics (MEI), Smithfield Foods (SFD), and Stein Mart (SMRT).

Ascena Retail (ASNA): Citing sales and promotional concerns, BB&T Capital cuts the clothing company to Hold from Buy.

AutoZone (AZO): Shares get downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer amid limited earnings upside potential and slowing sales growth.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX): The stock, which fell 15.99% yesterday, is tumbling further before the bell after a multitude of ratings reductions this morning. These include Neutral from Buy cuts at both Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

InterContinental Hotels (IHG): Credit Suisse cuts the accommodation outfit to Neutral from Outperform.

JDS Uniphase (JDSU): Raymond James reduces its rating to Market Perform from Outperform on account of increased risk from customer vertical integration.

MetLife (MET): MET is moved to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX): The stock gets downgraded to Below Average from Average at Caris, whose price target is $60.

Plains Exploration (PXP): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital.

Real Estate Investment Trusts: Retail REITs CBL & Associates Properties (CBL) and Weingarten Realty Investors (WRI) are each slashed to Sell from Neutral at UBS, whose respective price objectives are now $21.50 and $25.

Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs, which cites weak Food Network ratings. The target price is taken to $65 from $69.

W.W. Grainger (GWW): GWW gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS after its disappointing analyst day.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Starbucks Not Your Average Joe and New Stock Coverage: Lions Gate a Paper Tiger?)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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