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Stock Downgrades: Big Blues for International Business Machines Corp.

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

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In this, the week we honor sharks - those cuddly creatures who disproportionately work on Wall Street - equities ended mainly underwater, thanks to a Fisher man. JC Penney (JCP) plunged 3.22%, a fifth straight fall taking the stock to its lowest level since 2001. (That summer we unconscionably allowed ourselves to be distracted by phony fin fears when true terror lay just weeks away.) Jaws and Co have of course been around since before the dinosaurs, and time finally ran out on an unloved Fossil (FOSL) yesterday, as that stock sank 6.04% to post the S&P 500′s (^GSPC) poorest performance. Apparently no one buys watches anymore, but Crédit Agricole (CRARY) could clearly use a brush up on the art of timekeeping after inadvertently announcing its earnings umpteen hours early.

Today's earnings announcements, should they in fact occur at the appointed hour, are expected to include Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), CVS Caremark (CVS), DISH Network (DISH), First Solar (FSLR), Liberty Media (LMCA), MGM Resorts (MGM), Office Max (OMX), Porsche (POAHY), Standard Chartered (SCBFF), 21st Century Fox (FOX), Walt Disney (DIS), and Zillow (Z).

American Eagle Outfitters (AEO): The clothing company, slumping some 16% before the bell, is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital.

BRE Properties (BRE): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Equal-Weight from Overweight.

Cardtronics (CATM): Compass Point cuts CATM to Neutral from Buy with a fresh price objective of $36. Valuation concerns are cited, with the shares currently trading at a steep 15.5 times the broker's 2015 earnings estimate.

Chico's FAS (CHS): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Janney, which says persistent softness in consumer spending augurs ill in coming months.

Deere (DE): William Blair takes the tractor titan to Underperform from Market Perform, troubled by softening farm industry fundamentals.

DSW Inc. (DSW): The Designer Shoe Warehouse is cut to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital.

First Financial (FFIN): Sterne Agee slashes the regional bank stock to Underperform from Neutral.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): The giant pharmaceutical firm gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup due to valuation. Shares are lower in London this morning as a result.

Hawaiian Telecom (HCOM): DA Davidson takes the equity to Neutral from Buy.

HSBC Holdings (HBC): Europe's biggest bank is falling more than 4% in today's London trading amid iffy earnings and a Hold-from-Buy downgrade at Deutsche Bank. "We can't identify a near-term catalyst", its analysts wrote in a note.

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM): The key Dow (^DJI) component, popularly known as "Big Blue," is now Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse. The bank's concerns include upcoming organic growth and softer free cash flow, and shares are subsequently slipping in this morning's pre-market activity.

Kosmos Energy (KOS): Citigroup cuts KOS to Neutral from Buy.

McDermott International (MDR): The oil services firm gets moved to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital.

Strategic Hotels & Resorts (BEE): The accommodation outfit is now Neutral from Buy at JPMorgan.

Titan Machinery (TITN): TITN is taken to Underperform from Market Perform by William Blair.

Unilever (UN): JPMorgan moves the consumer products powerhouse to Neutral from Overweight amid earnings issues.

Web.com (WWWW): Shares are reduced to Neutral from Buy at Roth Capital.

WPP Group plc (WPPGY): The British advertising giant gets downgraded to Add from Buy at Numis.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: InterContinental Hotels Group PLC Gets the Honeymoon Suite and New Stock Coverage: Apollo Global Management LLC Going to Pluto?)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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