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Upgrades & Downgrades: BP Still Unable to Bridge the Gulf


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL That big bad moon rising over Athens' Temple of Poseidon this weekend was an eerily accurate harbinger of falling stocks in the beleaguered Mediterranean nation - Greek markets slumped 6.7% to start the week - but a world away in New York equities were easily able to weather the worst. Admittedly Dow Industrials (^DJI) did drop for a fourth straight day amid election uncertainty in Europe, but blue chips ended well off earlier lows and S&P 500 (^GSPC) shares snapped a three-session slump. Good gainers included Career Education (CECO), the owner of Le Cordon Bleu cooking schools increasing 8.70% as champagne socialists in France adopted a let-them-eat-cake approach to the country's mounting fiscal crisis. Meanwhile Polish vodka maker Central European Distribution (CEDC) jumped 5.61% ahead of this summer's soccer competition in the country and Ukraine, which comes complete with tours of Chernobyl. At least the continent's sense of humor remains as dry as its distilled spirits as economic calamity approaches. The ninth life of a 40-pound feline finally expired and animal pharmacy firm PetMed Express (PETS) suffered a similar fate, falling 19.55% for its worst day in eight years. (The aptly named Professor Barker, an advocate of taking your dog to work, was unfortunately unavailable for comment.)

In analyst action, an upgrade of Madison Square Garden (MSG) saw May flowers bloom in the World's Most Famous Arena, its 1.98% advance representing a fresh peak. The on-fire stock is clearly a table-pounding buy, though don't try that at home. Digital Domain Media (DDMG), which recently brought a rapper back from the dead, slid 7.35% while PepsiCo (PEP), which just did the same for Michael Jackson, finished 1.09% higher on an upbeat research recommendation. The King of Pop famously visited the White House on May 14, 1984. That same day, in a White Plains maternity ward, one Mark Zuckerberg was busy being born. Monday saw the Facebook love fest begin in earnest ahead of its IPO, with Henry Blodget reprising his role from an earlier Internet bubble and one of his Wall Street successors starting coverage on a company that doesn't yet trade. The social networking site is apparently ushering in the obsolescence of email, although that medium is still effective when you want to Friend someone in a lukewarm, midnight sort of way. No top-tier economic data due today but quarterly earnings are expected out of Chiquita Brands (CQB), DirecTV (DTV), Fossil (FOSL), HSBC Holdings (HBC), Molson Coors (TAP), OfficeMax (OMX), Rosetta Stone (RST), Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG), and Walt Disney (DIS).


Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (MACK): Shares are initiated with an Outperform and $12 target at Oppenheimer, which cites a novel network biology platform and broad pipeline of antibody-based and nanotherapeutic cancer therapies.

Millennial Media (MM): Shares are assigned Equal Weights by both Morgan Stanley and Barclays.

Rexnord (RXN): RXN is resumed with an Outperform at Robert W. Baird, whose price objective is $27.

Ultratech (UTEK): The stock is begun with a Buy at Canaccord Genuity.

URS Corp (URS): URS is a new Outperform at Imperial Capital, whose target is $51.

Vascular Solutions (VASC): Benchmark begins Buy rated research on VASC, which it sees benefiting from an "Aging of the Population" trend.


American Science & Engineering (ASEI): Citing improving prospects of military sales, Benchmark boosts the firm to Hold from Sell with a $66 target.

Capital One (COF): Shares are upgraded to Hold from Sell at Argus.

Cimarex Energy (XEC): The stock is upgraded to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

Cognizant Technology (CTSH): CTSH gets increased to Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird, which cites a strong balance sheet and attractive valuation. Its target price is $76.

Dresser-Rand Group (DRG): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Electronic Arts (EA): EA is upgraded to Buy from Hold with a $22 target at Needham.

Exco Resources (XCO): Shares are taken to Buy from Hold at Keybanc.

HSN, Inc (HNSI): Citigroup hoists the Home Shopping Network owner to Buy from Neutral.

Louisiana-Pacific (LPX): LPX is lifted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

National Retail Properties (NNN): NNN is now Outperform from Perform at FBR Capital, which takes its target up by $3 to $30.

NYSE Euronext (NYX): The equity is increased to Hold from Sell at Stifel Nicolaus. Valuation now appears more favorable.

Randgold Resources (GOLD): JPMorgan moves the stock to Neutral from Underweight.

Veeco Instruments (VECO): VECO is boosted to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX): Shares are upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley.


Dendreon (DNDN): DNDN is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Leerink Swann.

Aecom Technology (ACM): ACM gets an unusual 180-degree downgrade, to Underperform from Buy, at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH): The consulting company is cut to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital.

BP Plc (BP): Shares of the oil giant are trading lower in London this morning on the back of an Underweight-from-Equal Weight ratings reduction by Barclays.

El Paso Corp (EP): EP is downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at Atlantic Equities.

Embraer (ERJ): The private jet maker is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

FX Alliance (FX): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers the stock to Underperform from Neutral.

MAKO Surgical (MAKO): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Mizuho, which takes its target to $30 from $54 after a disappointing quarter from the firm.

Roche Holding (RHHBY): The Swiss drug giant gets downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Thomas & Betts (TNB): Robert W. Baird takes TNB to Neutral from Outperform with a price objective of $72.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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