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Upgrades & Downgrades: Everything's Rosy at Madison Square Garden

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL The March employment report was released when no one was at work on Wall Street and markets were unable to react - unfortunately April's wasn't so lucky. Dow Industrials (^DJI) promptly fell 168 points on Friday following the disappointing payroll data, and a 2.44% five-session skid in the S&P 500 Index (^GSPC) represented its worst week of 2012. This after only 115,000 positions were added, the smallest gain in six months and far fewer than economist projections of 165,000. (An estimate which was, coincidentally, identical to the record crowd that watched Saturday's Kentucky Derby; far more fun to be watching a horse's ass, rather than seen as one for faulty forecasts.) In France the election was won by François Hollande, who favors lowering the retirement age to 60. A notion that workaholic Warren Buffett, 81, would have found preposterous as he held court before a crowd of 30,000 at his annual capitalist Woodstock, more than the protesting 99%, attempting to reenact the spirit of the 1969 original, were able to muster by any estimation on May Day.

The World Trade Center was once again New York's tallest tower but another Gotham building appeared cursed as current inhabitant Apple (AAPL) tumbled 6.3% in its worst week since October while former tenant General Motors (GM) fell 5% on a slide in first-quarter profit. The Scream, commissioned by coffee magnate Arthur von Franquet, sold for $120 million. Shareholders of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) let out a similarly expensive wail of anguish after it lost 47.6%. And a new study showed we exhibit animal aggression in elevators, though such temper tantrums evidently gave a lift to Boris Johnson, the native New Yorker who won another term as Mayor of London. Today in economics, analysts expect an increase in March consumer credit at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, Avis Budget (CAR), Churchill Downs (CHDN), Dendreon (DNDN), Electronic Arts (EA), Louisiana Pacific (LPX), Nautilus (NLS), PetMed Express (PETS), Sysco (SYY), Tyson Foods (TSN), and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) are all due to release results.


Initiations:

Annie's Inc (BNNY): The recent organic food IPO is a fresh Outperform at Credit Suisse, whose price target is $48.

BancorpSouth (BXS): BXS is initiated with an Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Facebook (FB): Ahead of the May 18 public offering, FB is begun with an Outperform at Wedbush and a Buy at Sterne Agee, whose price objective is $46.

Regional Management (RM): RM is resumed with an Outperform at BMO Capital.

Vocera (VCRA): Shares are a new Neutral at Robert W. Baird.


Upgrades:

Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN): The stock is now to Neutral from Sell at UBS.

Cott Corp (COT): Morgan Stanley boosts the beverage maker to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Genesee & Wyoming (GWR): GWR gets upgraded to Buy from Hold at Dahlman Rose, whose target is $67.

Honda Motor (HMC): HMC is hoisted to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Leap Wireless (LEAP): LEAP is lifted to Neutral from Underweight at Piper Jaffray.

Lear Corp (LEA): The auto parts outfit gets an unusual 180 degree Overweight-from-Underweight lift at Morgan Stanley.

Legg Mason (LM): Shares are now Neutral from Underperform at Sterne Agee.

Lowe's (LOW): Morgan Stanley raises its recommendation on the home improvement retailer to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Madison Square Garden (MSG): Fresh from the Knicks win over the Miami Heat, shares are upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel Nicolaus on account of strong free cash flow growth driven by sustainable growth in Media and Sports. The target is $45.

Newell Rubbermaid (NWL): NWL is now Outperform from Perform with a $23 target at Oppenheimer.

NVIDIA (NVDA): Shares are boosted to Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

Priceline.com (PCLN): Nomura raises Priceline.com to Neutral from Reduce with a $725 target, saying its "progress in the US and the large US online hotel market speaks to…potential earnings upside."

Soda stocks: PepsiCo (PEP) is upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley, which moves Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) to Equal Weight from Underweight.

Texas Instruments (TXN): TXN gets taken to Neutral from Reduce at Nomura.


Downgrades:

Procter & Gamble (PG): The Dow member gets downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform with Wells Fargo.

Alliant Energy (LNT): LNT is lowered to Hold from Buy at Wunderlich, which takes its target to $45 from $47. It now expects 5% annual earnings growth off of a 2011 EPS base, rather than the 7% previously projected.

Carnival Corp (CCL): Goldman Sachs cuts the cruise company to Neutral from Buy due to uncertainty regarding future earnings and the European consumer.

Murphy Oil (MUR): MUR is moved to Hold from Buy at Brean Murray.

Penn West Energy (PWE): Shares are downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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