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Stock Downgrades: Potash Up in Smoke?


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL On this, the 100th anniversary of the ship they won't let sink, naming something after a group in Greek mythology whose hubris compelled them to fight a losing battle with the gods is as bad an idea as ever. Twenty-four hours after Titan Machinery (TITN) tumbled 22%, Titan International (TWI) dropped 2.59% on an otherwise up day and Titanic director James Cameron saw his Digital Domain (DDMG) file for bankruptcy.

At least Bob Dylan provided an apt swansong, yesterday releasing an album about the doomed vessel. Chicago's most famous hooky-player won't know what to make of a world where it's now the Windy City's teachers, not students, who are on strike, but hopefully he avoided investing in K12 Inc. (LRN) as that stock lost an NYSE-lagging 13.43%.

And today sees a critically important event that has the ability to meaningfully impact US GDP. But enough about Apple (AAPL) - the FOMC starts its widely anticipated policy meeting. Other items on the calendar include July wholesale inventories, expected to tick up at 10:00 Eastern, and earnings announcements out of National Technical Systems (NTSC), Pall Corp. (PLL), and Streamline Health Solutions (STRM).

Amgen (AMGN): The biotech is now Neutral from Outperform with an $84 price objective at Robert W. Baird.

Banco Popolare (BPSAY): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at by BNP Paribas.

Business Software & Services: Automatic Data Processing ($55 target price) and Paychex (PAYX) are each taken to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies, which worries about challenging employment markets and macro conditions.

Cohen & Steers (CNS): CNS gets cut Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs, which cites relative valuation and risk to fund flows. The target is taken to $26.50 from $11.

Exelon (EXC): Shares are now Sell from Neutral at UBS due to weakening power prices.

Finish Line (FINL): FINL is downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Sterne Agee as it continues to lose shares to Foot Locker (FL).

Paccar (PCAR): Citing both a lack of earnings visibility and the sense that 2013 consensus expectations are too high, Wells Fargo moves the stock to Underperform from Market Perform.

Packaging Corp. of America (PKG): Shares are downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital due to valuation issues.

Potash Corp. (POT): POT is now Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Standard Pacific (SPF): Shares are slashed to Neutral from Buy at UBS due to valuation.

Synaptics (SYNA): The stock is now Hold from Buy at Needham.

Vodafone (VOD): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Nomura.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Kohl's Can Be Hot Stock and New Stock Coverage: LivePerson Far From Dead Money.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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