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Stock Downgrades: Don't Be Caught With Estee Lauder Lipstick On Your Collar Trade

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

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Cosmetics company Estée Lauder (NYSE:EL) made for some mighty impressive trading collars on Friday. Shares surged 4.75% to end at an historic high - no mean feat in a week when its arch-rival Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) imploded. The firm, whose myriad other brands include Aramis, Aveda, Bobbi Brown, Bumble and bumble, Clinique, Flirt!, Origins, and Smashbox, boosted its profit outlook. Today, however, its excessive subsequent valuation sees an equity analyst advise that investors temporarily step to the sidelines.
 
Clearly, what we have here is a Hamlet market. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX), showing the decisiveness of Scandinavia's star-crossed prince, has now zig-zagged for nine straight weeks. Bull markets often end in such a burst of bipolarity and, to slightly misquote act 1, scene 4 of Shakespeare's tragic play, it does now seem that "Something is rotten in the state of DeMark." Stocks enjoyed a strong week despite the labor force participation rate falling to 62.8%, which was where it was way back in 1978. That was an antediluvian age when a frozen winter was being blamed for an anemic economy presided over by a Democrat president. This, as the country found itself at daggers drawn with the Russians in Eastern Europe, and Star Wars was all anyone could talk about in outer space. There's a song in there somewhere. The year 1978 was also notable for a Cold Warrior being killed off with a poisoned-tipped umbrella in England's capital (Sooo old school; these days the Russians have moved on to serving their enemies radioactive sushi in the city's restaurants.) Should you still wish to go out in the rain there, London Fog owner Iconix Brand (NASDAQ:ICON) advanced 8.28% on the week. But don't expect protection from Burberry's (OTCMKTS:BURBY) iconic trench coats after the company's head poncho just left to join Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
 
Today in economics, April's Institute for Supply Management services index is expected to inch up at 10:00 a.m. E.D.T. On the earnings front, American International Group (NYSE:AIG), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Sysco Corp (NYSE:SYY), and Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) are all due to release results.
 
Now let's look at this morning's rating reductions, an eclectic bunch that features a Chinese Internet firm plus headline stock Estée Lauder.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN): Shares in the English pharmaceutical firm, which surged 18% last week on talk of a possible buyout by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), are today taken all the way to Sell from Buy at Danske Bank.
 
Estée Lauder: BMO Capital cuts the cosmetics company to Perform from Outperform.
 
Extra Space Storage (NYSE:EXR): Shares get downgraded to Hold from Buy at KeyBanc Capital.
 
Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP): Guggenheim slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.
 
Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE:KOG): The stock is now Neutral from Buy at SunTrust, which also trims its target price by $2 to $13.
 
Nabors Industries (NYSE:NBR): NBR is now Sell from Neutral at Guggenheim.
 
Oaktree Capital (NYSE:OAK): Keefe Bruyette moves the equity to Market Perform from Outperform. Its price objective, previously $64, is now $60.
 
Redwood Trust (NYSE:RWT): RWT gets reduced to Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities.
 
Ryanair (OTCMKTS:RYAAY): Raymond James reduces the recently high-flying budget British carrier quite considerably, to Perform from Strong Buy.
 
SINA Corp (NASDAQ:SINA): Shares in the China firm, falling 3.90% before the bell, are cut to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.
 
Swift Energy (NYSE:SFY): Canaccord Genuity gives the stock a Hold-from-Buy downgrade.
 
Wesco (WCC): The industrial equipment name is now Neutral from Overweight at JP Morgan.
 
Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Analysts Have Huge Candy Crush on King Digital Entertainment

Stock Upgrades: Chipotle Mexican Grill Flavor of the Month for Cinco de Mayo

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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