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Upgrades & Downgrades: Analyst Has Big Beef With McDonald's


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Shares slid as investors recoiled in horror when one of the world's top-10 economies imploded before our eyes. But enough about California. No, it was renewed concern over a eurozone exit for Greece - whose GDP is approximately equal to Dallas' - that caused the S&P 500 Index (^GSPC) to fall for a fourth session in five. It now stands at its lowest level since Groundhog Day, appropriately enough as the market gods have decreed we are doomed to relive the nightmare in Athens on an endless loop. There were, nonetheless, some interesting winners on an otherwise dire day. Best Buy (BBY), whose former CEO apparently engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a female employee, gained 1.45%. Yahoo (YHOO), whose CEO was fired for fudging his résumé, rose 2.04%. Groupon (GRPN), whose head was caught swilling beer on company time, surged 18.54%. Chesapeake Energy (CHK), whose leader got the board to pay $12 million for his antique map collection, increased 4.79%. And Francesca's (FRAN) added 6.60% even as its CFO lost his job for "improperly" communicating company information through social media. Perhaps it's for the best that most workers are blissfully ignorant about who runs their company.

Suddenly jobless big wigs are a boon for LinkedIn (LNKD), which ended up 3.05%. These include JPMorgan's (JPM) now-former CIO Ina Drew - presumably no relation to Nancy, although on a day (ACOM) imploded 13.72% it was tough to tell. The financial firm took its two-day tumble to over 12% ahead of what should be an extremely interesting shareholder meeting this morning. Ms. Drew, one of the highest-ranking women on Wall Street, shattered the glass ceiling, but her unwitting legacy may now be Glass-Steagall. And Sophia became the most popular baby name among American girls. It apparently comes from ancient Greece, and means wisdom. Today in economics, March business inventories are expected to slip from the previous month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Arctic Cat (ACAT), Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS), Home Depot (HD), JCPenney (JCP), Mitsubishi UFJ (MBFJF), Saks Inc (SKS), and ThyssenKrupp (TYEKF) are all due to release results.


Marriott International (MAR): Deutsche Bank has a Hold on the hotel stock due to a full valuation. Its price objective is $44.

Carter Holdings (CRI): Shares are a Perform at FBR Capital, whose target price is $54.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD): The small cap stock is initiated with an Outperform and $9 objective at Imperial Capital, which views favorably its growth initiatives into new end markets and geographies.

Grupo Financiero Galicia (GGAL): Lazard launches a Buy on the Argentine financial firm.

Infoblox (BLOX): Shares are begun with an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley and a Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD): IRWD is initiated with a Hold at Jefferies.

JB Hunt Transport (JBHT): The stock is a new Market Perform with brokerage William Blair.

Midstates Petroleum (MPO): Shares are rated Outperform by both RBC Capital and Wells Fargo.

Perrigo (PRGO): PRGO is picked up with a Buy and $125 target at Stifel Nicolaus.

Phillips 66 (PSX): The recent spin-off gets begun with a Buy at Citigroup.

Retail Properties of America (RPAI): Keybanc covers at a Buy and JPMorgan has a new Neutral.

TCP Capital (TCPC): Shares are initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer, whose objective is $16.

Tech stocks: Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts Juniper Networks (JNPR) and Flextronics (FLEX), both now Buy from Neutral.

Transcept Pharmaceuticals (TSPT): The company is covered at Outperform by Cowen & Company.

Upgrades: (AMZN): AMZN is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Akamai Technologies (AKAM): The stock is boosted to Buy from Neutral at Janney Montgomery Scott.

Cepheid (CPHD): UBS upgrades it to Buy from Neutral.

Dominion Resources (D): The energy firm is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Groupon (GRPN): Shares, surging before the bell, are upgraded to Buy from Neutral with a $20 target at Sterne Agee and taken to Buy from Neutral at Citi.

Hartford Financial (HIG): HIG is hoisted to Buy from Neutral with a $24 target at Stifel Nicolaus, which cites its deployable capital generation potential.

Home health care: Robert W. Baird raises its recommendation on Amedisys (AMED) and Gentiva Health Services (GTIV), each now Neutral from Underperform and the former assigned a target of $10.

MIPS Technologies (MIPS): MIPS gets moved to Buy from Hold at The Benchmark Company.

Silver Wheaton (SLW): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Southern Company (SO): Jefferies juices its opinion on the electric utility outfit to Buy from Hold.

European oils: Russia's Statoil ASA (STO) and France's Total S.A. (TOT) both get Buy-from-Neutral boosts at UBS.


McDonald's (MCD): The Dow member is moved to Neutral from Outperform at Cowen & Company, which expects global unit growth and US market share gains to moderate.

Morgan Stanley (MS): Shares are removed from the US Focus List at Credit Suisse.

Aon Corp (AON): The Illinois insurance outfit gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Applied Materials (AMAT): AMAT is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham due to deceleration of in the semiconductor capital equipment business among other issues.

Bonanza Creek Energy (BCEI): Shares are downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Kennametal (KMT): BB&T Capital cuts KMT to Hold from Buy.

Medical related stocks: Life Technologies (LIFE) and Thermo Fisher (TMO) are each now Neutral from Buy at Mizuho amid uncertainty surrounding academic spending, which could lead to multiple compression for the space.

Nova Measuring (NVMI): NVMI is now Buy from Strong Buy at Needham, whose target is $12.

Quality Systems (QSII): Shares are downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup.

Summer Infant (SUMR): The stock is now Hold from Buy at Needham due to weak earnings and disappointing guidance.

Ultra Clean Holdings (UCTT): The small cap stock is cut to Hold from Buy at Needham.

Xcel Energy (XEL): XEL is now Hold from Buy at Jefferies.
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