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Stock Downgrades: Party Over at Shoe Carnival?


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Big Lots (BIG), downgraded this morning, lost 20.80% yesterday in a bankruptcy-worthy showing. Its purchase last year of a Canadian company called Liquidation World suddenly seems eerily apt. Lipstick firm Avon Products (AVP) slumped 2.70% and firearms outfit Smith & Wesson (SWHC) slid 3.77%. Somehow opening a salon-slash-gun store whose motto is "Where beauty and bullets collide" no longer seems such a great idea. On an otherwise anemic August Friday for corporate earnings announcements Madison Square Garden (MSG), trading at an all time high, easily exceeded analyst expectations earlier this morning.

Anglo American (AAUKY): The commodity company is cut to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Autodesk (ADSK): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord, which cites weak Q2 report and guidance. The target is taken to $32 from $47.

Bio-Reference Labs (BRLI): UBS reduces its rating to Neutral from Buy.

Big Lots (BIG): Shares, down over 20% yesterday, are losing more ground ahead of today's opening bell on a downgrade to Hold from Buy at Benchmark. The new lower objective is $33.

China Unicom (CHU): HSBC Securities cuts CHU to Underweight from Neutral.

Delhaize Group (DEG): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at ABN Amro.

General Growth Properties (GGP): The stock is now Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Merck (MRK): The Dow (^DJI) member is moved to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Shoe Carnival (SCVL): Shares, at all time highs earlier this week, are now Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee

Scholastic (SCHL): The stock is taken to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee due to both valuation and a lack of catalysts.

Staples (SPLS): Morgan Stanley moves the suffering stock to Equal-Weight from Overweight.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: TripAdvisor Heading North and New Stock Coverage: No Quick Buck in Swift Transportation.)
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