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Upgrades & Downgrades: Green Mountain Falls Off a Cliff


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

On International Women's Day, Wall Street welcomed back Lady Luck. Markets made a rapid rebound from Tuesday's tumble, the S&P 500 Index (^GSPC) posting its strongest successive showings since December 20-21 after over 80% of Greece's private bondholders approved of a debt-swap deal, well above the required 66.6%. (An appropriately satanic threshold for a country hell-bent on selling its economic soul to the devil.) Renewed continental can-kicking exerted the predictable effect, aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) advancing 2.30% to top all Dow Industrials (^DJI). Those who believe this represents a happy end to Europe's fiscal circus may not be the brightest but, in the wise words of P.T. Barnum, "There's a sucker born every minute." One reason why John Wiley & Sons (JW-A), which just jumped 4.05% on a 38% increase in quarterly profit, announced it is renouncing many of its other titles to focus on For Dummies; that's where the money is, after all. Meanwhile Mueller Water (MWA) surged 21.05% to top the NYSE but the glass is now unfortunately half empty for the Culligan Man.

Elsewhere research recommendations sent American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) up 1.35% at a multi-year high, the company whose Times Square billboard is catnip to our nation of narcissists enjoying its own 15 minutes of fame. Pottery Barn owner Williams-Sonoma (WSM) fell 5.87%; let's hope we aren't about to learn the break-it, own-it rule all over again on the road to Damascus. Holiday rental outfit HomeAway (AWAY) slipped 1.16% on a lukewarm analyst initiation and American International Group (AIG), whose CEO vacationed in Croatia on his first month on the job, slumped 3.87%. Presumably he was only there to drum up support for the country's bid to join the EU, which they have since opted to do in 2013, wisely waiting until a year after the world ends according to our Mayan friends. And Mark Haines is alas no longer with us but his eerily prophetic bottom lives on exactly three years later. Can this bull be killed? It appears not, although the superstitious among us could have done without a company called Matador Resources (MTDR) bringing today's trading to a close. This morning in economics, January wholesale inventories are out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front expect Ann Inc (ANN), BioScrip (BIOS), Citi Trends (CTRN), Hibbett Sports (HIBB), and LIM Aerospace (LMIA) to release results.


American Express (AXP): The Dow member is a new Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM): The financial firm, also in the Dow, gets begun with a Buy recommendation and $50 price objective at Guggenheim.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): A third blue chip initiation this morning, JNJ just being named a Hold at Jefferies.

Personal improvement industry: Vitamin powerhouse Herbalife (HLW) and Weight Watchers (WTW) are each initiated with Overweights by Barclays.

Nautilus Group (NLS): The fitness firm is a new Outperform at Northland Securities, which assigns it a $6 target price.

Campus Crest Communities (CCG): CCG is begun with an Equal Weight at Barclays.

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS): Shares are a new Buy ($55 target) at Argus, which expects it to raise operating margin above 10% and also deliver 16% Earnings Per Share growth over the next five years.


Kohl's Corp (KSS): The retailer is raised to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Aeropostale (ARO): ARO is upgraded to Above Average from Average at Caris & Company.

Homebuilders: Meritage Homes (MTH) and Ryland Group (RYL) are each upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

AvalonBay (AVB): The REIT is raised to Top Pick from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Nobel Biocare (NBHGF.PK): Shares of the Swiss dental company are trading substantially higher in Europe this morning after getting upgraded at Goldman Sachs, which adds the name to its Conviction Buy list from a previous rating of Neutral.

Medicis (MRX): The generic drug maker is moved to Buy from Neutral at Goldman.

Cavium Networks (CAVM): Shares are hoisted to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

China Mobile (CHL): Goldman gives the company a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Cigna (CI): The insurer is upgraded to Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna.

Cloud Peak Energy (CLD): CLD is increased to Outperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital.

Volcano Corp (VOLC): Goldman gives the company a lift to Buy from Neutral.

Statoil (STO): Two views on the Norwegian oil giant today, as it is also downgraded. First the good news - a Buy-from-Hold hoist at Deutsche Bank.

Georgia Gulf (GGC): GGC gets upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

GFI Group (GFIG): The investment brokerage is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

XL Capital (XL): XL is upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at JMP Securities.

Zep Inc (ZEP): Citing better valuation and improved fundamentals, BB&T Capital upgrades the consumer goods company to Buy from Hold.


Arch Coal (ACI): ACI is moved to Market Perform from Outperform by BMO Capital.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR): Shares, sliding some 14% ahead of the open even as rival Starbucks (SBUX) stands atop an all-time peak, are lowered to Neutral from Buy by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. Competition looms for its single-serve K-cups.

SABMiller Plc (SBMRY.PK): The British-based brewing giant is now Neutral from Buy at Natixis.

Williams-Sonoma (WSM): The Pottery Barn owner, also downgraded yesterday, is moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells.

British drug stocks: Dublin's Warner Chilcott (WCRX) and London's Smith & Nephew (SNN) are each now Neutral from Buy at Goldman.

Energy stocks: ENI S.p.A. (E) and Ensco (ESV) are moved to Market Perform from Outperform by Sanford Bernstein.

Statoil (STO): Now the bad news: Shares are slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman.

Pall Corp (PLL): The stock is lower before the bell on downgrades by both Wedbush (Neutral from Outperform) and JPMorgan (Underweight from Neutral.)

Medtronic (MDT): The medical device maker gets moved to Sell from Hold at Argus amid secular deteriorating sales in the company's three largest franchises.
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