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Stock Ratings Changes: Shares and Spirits Sag at Cognac King Remy Cointreau


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

Sell in May and go away? The Mayflower, and its Fed-friendly QE tugboat, may beg to differ come November. A rising tide of green ink again enveloped equities, as it became apparent just what a difference a year makes. In 2012, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) - clearly less proficient than the Pilgrims in making a break from the Mother Country - marked Thanksgiving by tumbling 12% after announcing an $8.8 billion write-down arising out of its ill-advised acquisition of an English outfit called, of all things, Autonomy. On Wednesday, HP rode both impressive earnings and a broker boost to surge an S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX)-best 9.05% in a session that saw that index and the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) reach fresh peaks. The tech titan thus enjoyed a temporary respite from an ongoing flight away from its core personal computers to the cloud. (Alas, every sliver lining has a - well, you know. Only hours later HP was picked for the poisoned chalice of having to host Across the Atlantic, one poor chap had reason to curse a fellow PC dinosaur. On the day Bitcoin broke above $1,000 for the first time ever, it emerged that over $6 million worth of the virtual currency stored on his Dell XPS N1710 is now buried under tons of trash and lost forever. Elsewhere - and please forgive the phrase while the highest calorie consumption of 2013 continues to wreck havoc on your intestines - one apparently can never have too many Cooks. This after Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Tim saw his stock advance 2.35% to hit a post-January high on Wednesday, even as iconic English travel agent Thomas Cook (LON:TCG) surged some 15% while we were all tripped out on tryptophan yesterday.

In what is expected to be quite a quiet trading day for US markets, trading in stocks and bonds will each conclude early at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. There is no domestic earnings news of note, but Beijing-based social networking name Renren (NYSE:RENN) beat Street estimates by $0.03 when it reported third-quarter results. Its slumping shares were subsequently downgraded by Jefferies, however, after the company issued soft guidance regarding its Q4 revenues.

Antofagasta (OTCMKTS:ANFGY): The British-based copper mining company is assigned an Outperform in new coverage at Sanford Bernstein.

Campus Crest Communities (NYSE:CCG): RBC Capital - while keeping its overall rating unchanged - nonetheless cuts its price objective on Campus Crest Communities by $2 to $11. The move comes amid softer growth projections for 2014.

Commerzbank (OTCMKTS:CRZBY): Morgan Stanley moves the German financial giant to Equal-Weight from Underweight.

Crédit Agricole (OTCMKTS:CRARY): Shares in the French financial firm are currently up over 3% in this morning's European trading after UBS added the stock to its Key Call list.

Experian (OTCMKTS:EXPGY): Goldman Sachs inflicts a Sell-from-Neutral downgrade upon the Irish information services stock.

Points International (NASDAQ:PCOM): RBC Capital cuts the Toronto e-commerce outfit to Sector Perform from Outperform with an amended price objective of $27. On account of a relatively rich valuation, the analyst advises waiting for a more compelling opportunity to purchase the stock.

Prudential Plc (NYSE:PUK): The English insurance name - not to be confused with America's Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) - is presently showing strength ahead of this morning's opening bell after getting upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform by Keefe Bruyette.

Rémy Cointreau (OTCMKTS:REMYF): That mystery man who for five decades left cognac at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe is sadly "nevermore," to "quoth the raven." How French cognac firm Rémy Cointreau could use his business right now. This after being slashed to Sell by both Citigroup (from Neutral) and Société Générale (from Hold.) Stock in the spirits giant nose-dived 9% on Tuesday after announcing its first-half net profit tumbled 20%. Rémy Cointreau cited a "sharp slowdown" in China.

Renren Inc: As referenced earlier, Jefferies reduces its RENN rating to Underperform from Hold après-earnings. The stock is, accordingly, imploding 11.94% as I write this article.

Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI): HSBC Securities takes TI to Overweight from Neutral, sending its stock up impressively overseas today.

Viña Concha y Toro (NYSE:VCO): Citigroup boosts the Chilean winemaker to Buy from Neutral.

Volvo (OTCMKTS:VOLVY): The Swedish car company gets cut to Underweight from Equal-Weight with Morgan Stanley.

W&T Offshore (NYSE:WTI): Capital One lowers the oil and gas exploration firm from Houston to Neutral from Add.
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