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Stock Downgrades: Cliffs Natural Resources Still Falling Off a Cliff


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

If yesterday's stock gains were Slim, well, what is good enough for Carlos is good enough for us. Mr. Market may want to think twice before getting into bed with The Bionic Woman again after mattress maker Select Comfort (SCSS) slid 15.75% to a new trough.

The urban legend linking the popularity of Anne Hathaway and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) might be right. The perky Oscar winner suddenly finds herself inexplicably despised even as Mr. Buffett just slipped out of the top three billionaire's list for the first time since 2000 after a "sub-par" year. But I ask you - whose is more full of beans? The man who dissed derivatives as "weapons of financial mass destruction" only to utterly embrace them, or the woman who said she will forever use her Golden Globe as a "weapon against self doubt"? In the eyes of many, Ms. Hathaway is the marginally less phony of the two.

Today's main economic data is the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index for February at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Deutsche Post (PINK:DPSGY), Smith & Wesson (SWHC), Standard Chartered (PINK:SCBFF), and VeriFone Systems (PAY) are all expected to release results.

AmerisourceBergen (ABC): The company gets cut to Buy from Strong Buy at ISI Group, whose new price objective is $53. Valuation issues are cited after a strong recent run.

Casella Waste Systems (CWST): Raymond James reduces its recommendation to Perform from Strong Buy on account of weak Western region trends.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF): BMO Capital Markets moves the stock, which fell 5.82% on Monday to take its 12-month mauling to 62.86%, to Market Perform from Outperform. Among its myriad issues are equity dilution and contract losses and the price target is also taken down substantially, to $27 from $50. CLF is the currently poorest performing S&P 500 (^GSPC) equity in 2013.

Impax Laboratories (IPXL): Shares are lowered to Market Perform from Outperform at Leerink, which is troubled by additional manufacturing deficiencies at its Hayward facility. Its price objective is also slashed by $7 to $16.

SandRidge Mississippian Trust I (SDT): Concerned by both higher costs and lower production, Wunderlich slashes the stock to Sell from Hold. The target price, $17.50 previously, is now $13.

Standard Motor (SMP): BB&T Capital cuts the company to Hold from Buy.

Texas Roadhouse (TXRH): The fast food firm is moved to Hold from Buy at Miller Tabak due to an excessive valuation.

THL Credit (TCRD): TCRD is taken to Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette.

WPP Group plc (PINK:WPPGY): The British advertising outfit is slashed to Sell from Hold by brokerage boutique Berenberg.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Diana Shipping Stuck in Dry Dock and Stock Upgrades: MGIC Investment Looks Like Magic.)
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