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New Stock Coverage: Avoid Apple Picking This Fall?


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL China may be known for fudging its figures but, as anyone who watched its Olympics can attest, eight is undeniably considered lucky over there. Or at least it was. Fresh from being blamed for the financial calamity of '08, on October 8 Beijing suffered the additional ignominy of having its annual growth rate cut from north of 8% to something considerably more modest by the World Bank. The institution's president may be an Ivy League rap star from Seoul, but it'll apparently be a while before millions across Asia live in the lavish Gangnam style so memorably portrayed by his hip hop compatriot.

Stocks fell worldwide, with the Dow (^DJI) snapping a three session winning streak, after Jim Yong Kim's cohorts slashed economic forecasts for the region. Black Friday was exposed as a myth but Black Monday is alas all too true, blue chips having now astonishingly declined at the week's start on 16 of the past 19 occasions. Columbus Day saw the year's lowest volume with closures impacting both bond markets (although someone stuck it lucky in fixed income) and many banks (where funny money was the order of the day).

A quiet start to the week in economics continues, with no top-tier data due, but Alcoa (AA) unofficially ushers what is expected to be a no better than mediocre third quarter earnings season when it reports after the close. Corporate results are also expected out of Chevron (CVX) and Yum Brands (YUM).

Apartment REITs: MLV & Co begins Buys on Campus Crest Communities (CCG) and Apartment Investment & Management (AIV). It has Holds on American Campus Communities (ACC), Essex Property (ESS), and Education Realty Trust (EDR), the latter with a price objective of $11.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Nomura rates the tech titan, whose shares have hit an air pocket of late, no better than a Neutral and issues a price objective of $710.

Caterpillar (CAT): The Dow (^DJI) member is a new Neutral at Piper Jaffray, whose price target is $90.

FirstMerit (FMER): Barclays begins Overweight rated research on FMER.

Gildan Activewear (GIL): GIL gets initiated with a Buy at TD Securities.

HomeTrust Bancshares (HTBI): Shares are initiated with an Outperform at Keefe Bruyette, whose target is $17.50.

Joy Global (JOY): Piper Jaffray picks up JOY at a Neutral.

Large Cap Tech: Citigroup begins Buy rated coverage, and assigns a $250 target, on Dow member International Business Machines (IBM). It starts Sells on fellow blue chip Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), as well as Dell Inc. (DELL) and Lexmark International (LXK). Nokia (NOK) and Xerox (XRX) are among the bank's many Neutrals.

Lazard (LAZ): LAZ is launched with a Sell at UBS.

Palo Alto Networks (PANW): Shares are initiated with a Neutral at Cowen.

Pier 1 Imports (PIR): PIR is initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD): Shares are initiated with an Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Pozen (POZN): Ascendiant Capital covers the small cap at a Buy.

Regional Banks: Something for everyone at Barclays, which begins Associated Banc-Corp (ASBC) at Equal Weight, Commerce Bancshares (CBSH) at Overweight, and Cullen/Frost Bankers (CFR) at Underweight.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): Shares are initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Band-Aid Giant Johnson & Johnson Gets Big Cut and Stock Upgrades: Party Time for Shoe Carnival.)
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