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Stock Downgrades: Stern Warning for Sirius XM Radio

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

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It was so easy to make money on Tuesday, even Apple (AAPL) managed it. Indeed the troubled tech titan advanced 3.51% in its best showing for three weeks, although you'd still be far better off investing in Mac cosmetics rather than than Mac computers after Estée Lauder (EL) gained $3.66 to hit its highest level ever. That made it an even 6.00% gain for the beauty behemoth, and it wasn't alone in experiencing the joy of six.

Also ending at an historic high after jumping 1.20% was Trojan condom company Church & Dwight (CHD). Its CEO says they are "involved in…520 million sex acts every year" but those who prefer more chaste investments will be pleased to know Virgin Media (VMED) surged 17.89% to best all Nasdaq (^IXIC) issues.

And Silicon Valley got the American Experience treatment. Anyone who thinks its best days are already behind it should think again however, for Santa Clara semiconductor duo Power Integrations (POWI) and Inphi Corporation (IPHI) rose a respective 14.43% and 12.92%.

It's another eerily quiet day in economic data but corporate earnings announcements are expected to include Allstate (ALL), ArcelorMittal (MT), CVS Caremark (CVS), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI), Madison Square Garden (MSG), News Corporation (NWSA), Time Warner (TWX), Visa (V), and Volvo (PINK:VOLVY).

Alliant Techsystems (ATK): The world's largest ammunition maker gets downgraded to Underweight from Hold at KeyBanc, whose target price is $54.

Arch Coal (ACI): JPMorgan cuts the commodity company, a poor performer on Tuesday, to Neutral from Overweight.

C.H. Robinson (CHRW): The transportation stock is taken down substantially, to Underperform from Buy, at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. Shares are sharply lower before this morning's opening bell as a result.

Dell Inc. (DELL): Shares, no longer trading on fundamentals following its leveraged buy out, are slashed to Sell from Hold at Argus.

DreamWorks Animation (DWA): DWA gets downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray due to concerns over delayed releases for two movies, Peabody and Sherman. Its price objective is also reduced, to $18 from $25.

Emerson (EMR): Langenberg & Company lowers the industrial outfit to Hold from Buy.

Expedia (EXPE): The online travel stock is now Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital, although its shares are actually up 2.2% ahead of the opening bell after announcing earnings.

Hologic (HOLX): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch moves the shares to Neutral from Buy.

Hotel Stocks/Lodging REITs: Robert W. Baird gives Neutral-from-Outperform ratings reductions to several hotels and Real Estate Investment Trusts, among them Ashford Hospitality (AHT) ($13 price objective), Intercontinental Hotels (IHG) ($32), and Pebblebrook Hotel (PEB) ($25.) Imminent budget debates threaten to hotel stock momentum, Baird believes.

KeyCorp (KEY): KEY is cut to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

Knoll (KNL): The furniture firm is now Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital.

Silgan Holdings (SLGN): Shares are slashed to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI): Macquarie moves the home of shock jock Howard Stern to Neutral from Outperform with a $3.25 objective amid valuation concerns.

Sohu.com (SOHU): Shares are reduced to Neutral from Outperform with a $47 target at Macquarie.

Trimble Navigation (TRMB): The stock is now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

UBS AG (UBS): RBC Capital cuts the Swiss banking giant to Sector Perform from Outperform.

Validus Holdings (VR): Shares of the property and casualty insurance outfit are now Neutral from Conviction Buy at Goldman Sachs. Potential share-price upside is seen as constrained until an upcoming acquisition closes, and the price objective is trimmed by $3 to $40.

Viacom (VIAB): Troubled by both weak network ratings and falling advertising growth, Argus moves the media empire to Hold from Buy.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Foot Locker Kicks Into High Gear and Stock Upgrades: McGraw-Hill's Issues More Molehill Than Mountain?)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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