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Stock Downgrades: Smith & Wesson Holding Corp Can't Keep Up With the Joneses

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

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Wall Street looked for miracles from Macy's (M) and US Airways (LCC), who each have a pretty impressive track record in such matters. Alas, all they got was a mirage, as the retailer fell 4.47% and Sully Sullenberger's suddenly shunned alma mater took its two-day tumble to 14%. The Dow (^DJI) thus endured its worst one-day point decline since June 28. Indeed you know it's a bad one when National Bank of Greece (NBG), a 7.14% surger, sets the pace. (To be fair, Athens does finally appear to be getting its act together. Indeed, it even taught Friedrich Hayek's Austria an unlikely lesson on the fútbol field last night.)

J.C. Penney (JCP), up 3.39% in a late-session jump, was another unlikely gainer. This after Bill Ackman mounted a vigorous defense of his tenure on Charlie Rose, accusing Starbucks' (SBUX) CEO of being the coffee pot calling the tea kettle black, the latter apparently the sole item to have sold at the retailer all year. (And only then due to its unintended similarity to Adolf Hitler.) Elsewhere JPMorgan (JPM), whose CEO knows all about teapot tempests, dropped for an eighth time in nine as regulators finally flipped their lids at Jamie Dimon.

Today in economics, analysts forecast a fall in the August Philadelphia Fed Index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the corporate front, expect earnings out of Applied Materials (AMAT), Briggs and Stratton (BGG), Estée Lauder (EL), Kohl's Corporation (KSS), Nordstrom (JWN), PetSmart (PETM), Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB), and Wal-Mart (WMT).

Anixter International (AXE): William Blair cuts the electronics company to Market Perform from Outperform.

Antofagasta (ANFGY): The commodity company is now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

British Pharmaceuticals: Morgan Stanley moves dual English drug stocks AstraZeneca (AZN) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to Underweight from Equal Weight, sending each lower in today's London trading. "We prefer GSK over AZN and see limited absolute downside for both stocks given the yield," analysts wrote in a note.

Deere & Co. (DE): Argus takes the tractor titan to Hold from Buy.

Green Dot (GDOT): GDOT gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $26 target price at Compass Point, whose concerns include competitive pressures and a 65% revenue concentration with Wal-Mart (WMT).

Helmerich & Payne (HP): RBC Capital reduces its rating on the oil and gas driller to Sector Perform from Outperform.

Houston Wire & Cable (HWCC): Shares are slashed to Market Perform from Outperform by William Blair.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): Mizuho moves Europe's biggest bank to Neutral from Buy.

Intel (INTC): The semiconductor stock, a key Dow (^DJI) component, is cut to Neutral from Outperform at Robert W. Baird.

Micron (MU): Robert W. Baird takes the technology name to Neutral from Outperform.

PetroChina (PTR): Shares are cut to Underperform from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

PulteGroup (PHM): The home-builder is taken to Outperform from Top Pick at RBC Capital Markets.

Smith & Wesson Holding Corp (SWHC): KeyBanc cuts the firearms firm to Underweight from Hold amid increasing indications that demand may have reached a plateau.

Towers Watson (TW): The stock is taken to Hold from Buy at Stifel due to valuation issues.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Sometimes, Money Talks In a Bazaarvoice Inc and Stock Upgrades: Carnival Corporation Catches a Wave.)
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