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Upgrades & Downgrades: Sorry Sox Fans, Boston Beer Looks Flat


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

Stocks fell for a second straight session, dragging the S&P 500 (^GSPC) down for a ninth day in 12, and this time investors couldn't even entirely blame Europe. Generally solid earnings announcements were outweighed by the three stooges of disappointing economic data on this side of the Atlantic, namely sluggish readings on initial unemployment claims, existing home sales, and the Philadelphia Fed Index. Of course, Spain doesn't get off scot-free, with its lackluster debt auction adding to Thursday's anxiety. The country's Banco Santander (STD), trading at fresh 52-week lows, has sensibly opted to change its somewhat embarrassing stock symbol but their nasty case of continental contagion appears to be catching regardless. Witness one IberiaBank (IBKC), which, despite the name, is based in Lafayette, Louisiana, and serves strictly the US Southeast, incurring a downgrade this morning. Fellow financial Bank of America (BAC) managed to end exactly unchanged in Wednesday's down market despite being the victim of a fake press release. Fool me once; when the real thing 24-hours on revealed earnings that easily beat Street estimates, the stock slumped 1.68%.

A rash of ratings increases and impressive results sent eBay Inc (EBAY) surging 13.24%, a 7-year high for the company where people come together to sell kidneys. Elsewhere Apple (AAPL), its products so prized they can cost you the same organ, fell 3.44%. LifeTime Fitness (LTM), whose leader once admitted a fifth-degree assault charge against a high-school student, imploded 8.38% while Winnebago Industries (WGO), indelibly associated with the "The Angriest Man in the World", lost 3.17%. We need less anger and more love, of the type found in Berkeley's hippie heartland. Annie's (BNNY), the recent IPO which is based there, declined 3.26% but it's only money and, as psychologists from the city recently concluded, poor people are nicer anyway. No top-tier economic data out today but a frenetic week for first-quarter earnings announcements concludes with American Electric Power (AEP), General Electric (GE), Honeywell (HON), Ingersoll-Rand (IR), Johnson Controls (JCI), Kimberly-Clark (KMB), McDonald's (MCD), and Under Armour Inc (UA) all due to report results.


Atlas Pipeline Partners LP (APL): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch launches Buy rated research on APL.

Athletic apparel: Finish Line (FINL) is begun with a Buy and $27 price target at The Benchmark Company, which believes it is taking the necessary steps to remain relevant and stay ahead of the curve. The broker has a Hold and $35 price objective on Foot Locker (FL), as the company is no longer as much of a turnaround story and will need to prove that it can find incremental growth and margin.

Boston Beer (SAM): Whisper it softly within earshot of Fenway Park, which today turns 100 with a mouthwatering Red Sox-Yankees matchup, but the hometown brewer is no better than a new Neutral at UBS.

Cirrus Logic (CRUS): Shares are begun with a Buy at Sterne Agee.

Generic drugmakers: Sagent Pharmaceuticals (SGNT) is a new Neutral at Piper Jaffray, which picks up peer Par Pharmaceutical (PRX) at an Overweight.

LinkedIn (LNKD): LNKD gets launched with a Market Perform and $105 objective at Northland Securities.

Lumber Liquidators (LL): LL is a new Neutral at Davenport.

Navios Maritime (NM): The small cap stock is started at Outperform with Imperial Capital.

Exelixis (EXEL): Maxim Group gives a Buy rating and $9 target on the stock.

Synageva Biopharma (GEVA): Shares are started with an Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Oil & gas pipelines: Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) and Plains All American (PAA) are each reinstated at Overweight by Barclays.

Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR): The biotech gets begun with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

Riverbed Technology (RVBD): The stock, which suffers multiple downgrades elsewhere this morning, is resumed with a Buy at Needham.

Syntroleum (SYNM): Shares are initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities.


Brown & Brown (BRO): The stock is boosted to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Cameco (CCJ): CCJ is upgraded to Buy from Hold at TD Securities.

Myriad Genetics (MYGN): Cowen & Company moves MYGN to Outperform from Neutral.

Ixia (XXIA): The scientific instrument outfit is upgraded to Buy from Hold with Wunderlich, whose target is $15. There is ample 33.8% appreciation to their price objective, and earnings appear solid.

Rex Energy (REXX): REXX is raised to Buy from Hold at Brean Murray.

TransDigm Group (TDG): Goldman Sachs gives the aerospace outfit a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Westar Energy (WR): The electric utility is now Neutral from Sell at Goldman.


Bank of America (BAC): The Dow member is moved to Sell from Underperform at Crédit Agricole.

Altera (ALTR): The tech stock is taken to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Arkansas Best (ABFS): Citi cuts the trucking company to Neutral from Buy.

Badger Meter (BMI): BMI is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity.

Chesapeake Energy (CHK): The troubled energy outfit is taken to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Cypress Semiconductor (CY): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at Capstone Investments, which says they see several risks which could hinder future valuation, potentially causing shares to see limited upside from current levels.

Embraer (ERJ): The jet maker gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman due to valuation issues and a deceleration in regional orders. Its objective is $40.

First Horizon (FHN): Shares are moved to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells.

Lumber Liquidators (LL): LL gets lowered to Neutral from Buy at Goldman.

Marsh & McLennan (MMC): JPMorgan moves MMC to Underweight from Neutral.

Methanex (MEOH): MEOH is downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at CIBC World Markets.

ONEOK Partners (OKS): OKS is now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

IberiaBank (IBKC): As mentioned, the stock is cut to Hold from Buy at Wunderlich.

Riverbed Technology (RVBD): Shares are cut to Hold from Buy at Cantor Fitzgerald, to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer, and to Neutral from Buy at Mizuho.

SanDisk (SNDK): Shares, slumping before the bell, are downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.
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