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Stock Downgrades: Panera Bread Fresh Out of Dough


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL A New York eatery unveiled a steak costing $350. That's $50 more than a Florida family was able to rescue from the bowels of a beagle, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Surely a far less messy way of making money is simply to invest in hometown hero Bloomin' Brands (BLMN). The owner of Outback Steakhouse, headquartered in Cigar City, surged 4.51% to a post-IPO peak after receiving recommendations from both Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS), each of whose research headquarters overlook an Irish Hunger Memorial.

For fat cat bankers to praise a purveyor of pricey filet mignon yesterday must have really gotten the goat of Occupy Wall Street. On the bright side, their Birkenstock-wearing buddies Ben & Jerry are now better able to fund the organization. You see, the erstwhile hippies long ago sold out to Unilever (UN) for a cool $326 million in cash and the corporate giant just rose to a fresh 52-week peak on its own upbeat analyst assessment.

No top-tier economic data due today, but quarterly earnings announcements are expected from FedEx (FDX), Manchester United (MANU), Misonix (MSON), Schiff Nutrition International (SHF), and Versar (VSR).

Alcoa (AA): Jefferies downgrades yesterday's poorest performing Dow (^DJI) stock to Hold from Buy amid valuation concerns.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY): Shares are downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer, which keeps its $80 price objective intact.

CARBO Ceramics (CRR): Citing potential earnings pressure from increased imports and lower prices, Dahlman Rose cuts the company to Hold from Buy.

Cash America International (CSH): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

DFC Global (DLLR): DLLR is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

eBay Inc. (EBAY): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at Compass Point after a rapid recent run up.

France Telecom (FTE): FTE is taken to Neutral from Outperform by BNP Paribas.

Iris International (IRIS): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at The Benchmark Company after a buyout bid.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMUY): The luxury retailer is lowered to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

Lumber Liquidators (LL): LL is downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

Medical Device Makers: Abbott Labs (ABT) and Boston Scientific (BSX) are both lowered to Market Perform from Outperform at Leerink.

Molina Healthcare (MOH): MOH is moved to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies.

Oil & Gas Refiners: Marathon Petroleum (MPC), Phillips 66 (PSX), and Western Refining (WNR) are all now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Optimer Pharmaceuticals (OPTR): The stock gets cut an unusual 180 degrees, to Underperform from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Panera Bread (PNRA): Shares are downgraded to Hold from Buy at Miller Tabak.

Randgold Resources (GOLD): GOLD gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus.

Semiconductor Stocks: RBC Capital gives Sector Perform-from-Outperform ratings reductions to Dow component Intel (INTC), along with Analog Devices (ADI), Texas Instruments (TXN), and NVIDIA (NVDA). The analyst's concerns include elevated inventory levels.

Steel Stocks: More unwelcome news for the recently slumping sector, with Reliance Steel (RS) and Schnitzer Steel (SCHN) each reduced to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

WMS Industries (WMS): The stock is slashed to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: TASER Set for Stunning Success? and New Stock Coverage: A.O. Smith Can Keep Up With the Dow Joneses.)
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