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Stock Downgrades: Strayer Education Sent to Back of Class

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

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April 15, the very midpoint of T.S. Eliot's "cruelest month", already had an incomparably unhappy history encompassing everything from Abraham Lincoln to the Titanic.

Yesterday the date again went down in infamy after a horror in Boston, and that stocks coincidentally suffered their steepest slide of the year is ultimately utterly irrelevant. Our equity markets moved lower from the opening bell after disappointing growth from China which - as new data made abundantly clear - owns ever more of America's debt.

There were no silver linings for Pan American Silver (PAAS), which imploded 11.38% as commodities cratered, and Bill Ackman's remaining grey hairs are shortly to fall out if even an upgrade proves powerless to prevent JC Penney (JCP) from falling a further 1.57%.

Elsewhere West Texas Intermediate crude tumbled 2.8% to its lowest level of the year. J.R. Ewing clearly made his Hollywood exit just in time.

Today sees quarterly earnings season start in earnest, with BlackRock (BLK), Coca-Cola (KO), Goldman Sachs (GS), Intel (INTC), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), TD Ameritrade (AMTD), and Yahoo (YHOO) among a multitude of companies releasing results.

Associated British Foods (PINK:ASBFY): Shares are tumbling 2.41% in London today on a Neutral-from-Outperform downgrade at Credit Suisse, whose analysts wrote in a note that "…the shares look due a pause for breath."

Chicago Bridge & Iron (CBI): Macquarie moves the energy infrastructure outfit to Underperform from Neutral.

C.H. Robinson (CHRW): JPMorgan takes the transport name to Underweight from Neutral.

Energy Industry: Citigroup gives Neutral-from-Buy downgrades to Spectra Energy (SEP) and Sunoco Logistics (SXL) and takes TC Pipelines (TCP) to Sell from Neutral.

Keynote Systems (KEYN): Evercore reduces its rating to Equal Weight from Overweight.

Life Technologies (LIFE): The stock, no longer trading on fundamentals after being bought by Thermo Fisher (TMO), is lowered to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Mack-Cali Realty (CLI): CLI is cut to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Niska Gas Storage (NKA): Shares are sharply lower this morning after getting slashed to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup.

Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT): Double trouble for the biotech name today, taken to Neutral from Buy at Janney and lowered to Market Perform from Outperform at Leerink Swann.

Strayer Education (NASDAQ:STRA): The university operator, which fell 5.04% on Monday, is this morning moved to Equal-Weight from Overweight at First Analysis.

Ventas (VTR): Citi cuts the company to Neutral from Buy.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Time to Shop at Wal-Mart and Stock Upgrades: Hollywood Ending for DreamWorks Animation.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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