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Stock Downgrades: Visa Not Where You Want to Be


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

Shares scored good gains, thanks largely to land, sea, and air. K-Swiss (KSWS) surged 47.65% to top a Nasdaq Index (^IXIC) that is now at a three-month high after agreeing to be acquired by E.Land World.

Boat maker MarineMax (HZO) jumped 9.09%. As for air, well we have to cheat a little here for Boeing (BA) remains firmly grounded, but it still edged up 1.24%. This despite a ratings reduction.

Indeed investors appear to have finally found a use for Wall Street researchers - as infallible contrary indicators. Research In Motion (RIMM) was cut on Friday, only to finish over 13% higher. Facebook (FB) found a friend on Monday, and promptly fell more than 2%. And Apple Inc. (AAPL) advanced 3% plus on Wednesday despite an analyst diss.

To be fair, Constellation Brands (STZ) hit the highest level in its history on bullish comments. Meanwhile Starz (STRZA) just advanced 2.12% and Hain Celestial (HAIN) added 5.19%; clearly while Congress stares blankly at the debt ceiling, some of us are looking at celestial returns.

Ahead of the holiday weekend, an improvement is expected in the University of Michigan's January consumer sentiment survey at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. It's another full Friday for fourth quarter earnings, with key Dow (^DJI) component General Electric (GE) having already revealed a well-received set of numbers. Johnson Controls (JCI), Morgan Stanley (MS), Parker-Hannifin (PH), Rockwell Collins (COL), Schlumberger (SLB), State Street (STT), and SunTrust Banks (STI) are all also scheduled to release results.

Alterra Capital (ALTE): Sterne Agee takes the stock to Neutral from Buy.

Ball Corp (BLL): Shares are taken to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

CSX Corp. Credit Suisse reduces the railroad to Neutral from Outperform.

Estée Lauder (EL): Stock in the cosmetics company is now Outperform from Buy at Crédit Agricole, whose concerns include slowing organic sales growth after yesterday's weaker than expected US retail sales for December. Its $74 target price is intact.

Finisar (FNSR): The stock gets downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies, sending it sharply lower ahead of the open.

MGM Resorts (MGM): Wells Fargo moves MGM to Market Perform from Outperform.

NetSuite (N): The business software name is pulled from Goldman Sachs' list of Conviction Buys.

Visa (NYSE:V): Robert W. Baird cuts the credit card company, famous for its "Everywhere you want to be" slogan, to Neutral from Outperform with a $165 price objective. After a parabolic recent run, the risk/reward ratio is now less compelling, especially in light of slowing retail sales growth and less margin expansion potential.

Ryanair Holdings (PINK:RYAAY): The low cost Irish airline is now Underweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Harry Winston Diamond Still Sparkles and Stock Upgrades: Time Is Money for Movado.)
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