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Stock Downgrades: Yum Brands Giving Investors Indigestion

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

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Among us contrarians, Barron's cover curse is an absolutely infallible opposite indicator. After all, its issue of Monday April 15 advised us to "Buy gold" - the very same day that bullion endured its single worst session for 33 years. So its current bullishness is a concern, but for now let's just enjoy the Dow (^DJI) having yesterday recovered a smidgen of recent steep declines.

Adidas (PINK:ADDYY) certainly enjoyed a Barron's boost, taking its 12-month gain to 28.24%. (Although you know you've got problems when one of your star athletes stands accused of cannibalism for the second time in his career.)

Elsewhere Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (CCH) jumped 4.93% in the wake of a message in a bottle arriving ashore after 28 years. A distant age, 1985. The Plaza Accords took place amid currency battles and a booming Japanese stock market. Margaret Thatcher hogged the headlines. And our wars with Russia were mercifully Cold, not hot. Today in economics, March new home sales are reported at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

On the corporate front it's another frenetic session for earnings announcements with Apple (AAPL), AT&T (T), Broadcom (BRCM), Cree Inc. (CREE), DuPont (DD), Lockheed Martin (LMT), Panera Bread (PNRA), Travelers (TRV), United Technologies (UTX), and Yum Brands (YUM) all due to release results.

American Electric Power (AEP): SunTrust takes the utility to Neutral from Buy.

Autoliv (ALV): The stock is cut to Hold from Buy at Nordea Securities.

Bankrate (RATE): Goldman Sachs reduces RATE to Sell from Neutral, sending the stock slumping ahead of the open.

British American Tobacco (BTI): BTI gets taken to Buy from Conviction Buy at Goldman.

Compass Minerals (CMP): Shares are slashed to Underperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital Markets.

Ericsson (ERIC): Danske downgrades the Swedish telecom name to Hold from Buy.

Inter Parfums (IPAR): B. Riley & Co. cuts the company to Neutral from Buy, trimming its target to $27 from $31. A recent stock surge has left little room for additional upside potential in the near term, the broker believes.

Power-One (PWER): Shares get downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Rogers Communications (RCI): Credit Suisse reduces RCI to Neutral from Outperform.

Sempra Energy (SRE): ISG Group takes the stock to Neutral from Buy amid myriad issues including inconsistent earnings in its renewable business and ongoing challenges in California.

SLM Corp. (SLM): The student lender popularly known as Sallie Mae gets moved to Equal Weight from Overweight at Evercore.

Western Union (WU): The stock is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell - which reports earnings later today - by an unusual 180 degrees (Underperform from Buy.) Its price objective, previously $80, is slashed to $60 amid avian-flu related weakness at KFC China.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: 'Maxx' Out Your Profits With TJX Companies and Stock Upgrades: Time to Buy Bank of America.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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