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Upgrades & Downgrades: Still Losing Your Shirt in Abercrombie


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL By the time none other than Astoria Financial (AF) - named for a New York neighborhood long home to the largest Greek enclave outside of Athens - brought trading to a close, investors were once again left cursing the Mother Country. Better economic data here at home was rendered irrelevant by ongoing anxiety in the ancient capitals of Europe, sending the Dow (^DJI) down for a fourth straight session. The Dictator arrived at the box office, but Greeks seem determined to give democracy one last chance and appointed a judge to temporarily head the country ahead of another election next month. The last one, 11 days ago, settled nothing, although bearing in mind our own five week hanging chad fiasco settled by nine judges in 2000, it's best not to cast any aspersions. JCPenney (JCP) - the founder's middle name was Cash - lost an awful lot of it. "Do the math," its ads ask, and at last calculation the stock was selling for 19.27% off after an earnings miss, its worst single day since coming public in the inauspicious year of 1929. Spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres just picked up the prestigious Mark Twain Award for comedy. Fitting, for the legendary author - no fan of the stock market - would have seen yesterday's action as a sick joke.

Big yellow taxis were worth more than their weight in gold last year but that's not now saying much as bullion is officially in a bear market and accordingly Medallion Financial (TAXI) tumbled 12.28%. Winners included Arabian American Development Company (ARSD), which could sell sand to the Saudis after surging 16.27% although the day may soon arrive when we need the Middle East a lot less. Herbalife (HLF) jumped 16.66% to top the NYSE, money talking after David Einhorn stayed silent at an investment conference on a name he has long loathed. Perhaps the Mets fan was just feeling generous after his team's stadium was awarded the all-star game. From baseball diamonds to the real thing, online bling king Blue Nile (NILE) rose 3.13% but rocks remain a messy business. The Social Network's pre-IPO frenzy continued apace while over on The Human Network, Cisco Systems (CSCO) rode an analyst upgrade to end up. And Caribou Coffee (CBOU) imploded 8.09%. Live long and prosper? Well, one out of two ain't bad. Today in economics, the May Philadelphia Fed Index and April Leading Indicators are each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings action, Advance Auto Parts (AAP), Dollar Tree (DLTR), Wal-Mart (WMT), and Zumiez (ZUMZ) are all due to release results.


Crocs Inc (CROX): Shares are a new Neutral at Suntrust.

Infoblox (BLOX): The recent IPO is initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities.

US Airways (LCC): LCC is launched at Outperform by Raymond James.

Medical appliances: Piper Jaffray picks up Alphatec (ATEC), ArthroCare (ARTC), and CareFusion (CFN) with Overweights on each.

Scientific & Technical Instruments: Agilent (A), Bruker (BRKR), and Waters (WAT) are all assigned Outperforms with Wells Fargo, which rates Thermo Fisher (TMO) Market Perform.

Semiconductors: Susquehanna starts SanDisk (SNDK) at a Positive and has a new Neutral on Micron (MU).

Trucking sector: Wunderlich begins Buys on, among others, Swift Transportation (SWFT) and Kirby Corporation (KEX). Its Holds include JB Hunt Transport (JBHT) and Landstar System (LSTR).

Tyler Technologies (TYL): TYL is begun with a Buy at The Benchmark Company, whose price objective is $45. Tyler has, in its view, built a financially attractive business model, anchored by 58% recurring revenue.


Acadia Healthcare (ACHC): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Atmos Energy (ATO): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the stock to Buy from Neutral and takes its target price up by $3 to $37. "We see ATO's plan to grow its rate base at a peer-leading CAGR of 8-8.5% over the next few years as auguring for a re-rating of ATO among its gas utility peers," it wrote in a note.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBVA): The beleaguered Spanish bank gets boosted to Neutral from Underperform by BNP Paribas.

Canadian Pacific (CP): Shares are increased to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays.

Chesapeake Midstream Partners (CHKM): Deutsche Bank upgrades the stock to Buy from Hold.

Citi Trends (CTRN): The rating is now Neutral from Underweight at Piper Jaffray. (CTRP): Shares are upgraded to Hold from Sell at Brean Murray.

Dell Inc (DELL): DELL is now Neutral from Underperform at Sterne Agee.

Duke Energy (DUK): The energy outfit is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

G&K Services (GSKR): Shares get boosted to Buy from Hold at Keybanc.

Harsco (HSC): HSC is moved to Strong Buy from Market Perform at Raymond James.

Herbalife (HLF): Shares are upgraded to Buy from Average at Caris & Company, which takes its target to $86 from $39 after short-seller David Einhorn did not present the company (HLF) at yesterday's Ira Sohn investment conference.

Heritage Financial (HBOS): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette.

Infinera (INFN): The stock is boosted to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE): ICE is upgraded to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James.

Legg Mason (LM): Citigroup raises its recommendation to Buy from Neutral.

Millennial Media (MM): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight, sending shares up sharply before the opening bell.


Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF): The clothing company, at a new 52-week low after yesterday's 13.00% slide, is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo and pulled from the Top Picks Live list at Citigroup.

Aflac (AFL): Saying its bond portfolio is still at risk for "major additional write-offs," RBC Capital cuts the insurance outfit to Sector Perform from Outperform.

Berry Petroleum (BRY): Shares are downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

Cimarex (XEC): Raymond James reduces its rating to Market Perform from Outperform.

Cintas Corporation (CTAS): Citing a lack of near-term catalysts, KeyBanc Capital cuts the manufacturer of work uniforms to Hold from Buy.

First Potomac Realty (FPO): FPO is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

FLY Leasing (FLY): Citi cuts the company to Neutral from Buy.

Green Dot (GDOT): GDOT gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Hancock Holding (HBHC): The stock is now Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.

Riverbed Technology (RVBD): RVBD is reduced to Neutral from Buy at MKM Partners, which takes its target to $16.50 from $28, as they expect there will likely be another guidance cut this year.

Visa (V): Shares are lower ahead of the open after getting removed from the Conviction Buy list at Goldman.

Vitamin Shoppe (VSI): VSI is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

WPX Energy (WPX): Susquehanna slashes the shares to Negative from Neutral.
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