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Stock Downgrades: Double Trouble for Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Natuzzi (NTZ), an Italian maker of sofas and loveseats, jumped 19.7% on Wall Street. Send some shares to that poor fellow felled by a falling mattress on Wall Street.

Moody's (MCO) new-found vigilance may be a day late and several million dollars short in the eyes of many, but Monday morning quarterbacking has never proved more profitable. The ratings agency ended the week up 4.5% and has now increased for 18 straight sessions.

And Chicago icon Ferris Bueller went wearily back to school as the Windy City's hooky-playing teachers terminated their strike. His friend Cameron's curious alchemy may be behind both a 16% slide in coal company Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) and a 13% decline in diamond retailer Blue Nile (NILE).

No top-tier economic data due today but quarterly earnings announcements are expected out of Comtech Telecommunications (CMTL), Lennar (LEN), Paychex (PAYX), Red Hat (RHT), and Thor Industries (THO).

Anglo American (AAUKY): The miner is moved to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup after the bank cut its medium-term commodity price forecasts.

Atmel (ATML): Shares are now Neutral from Buy at UBS, which takes its target price to $7 from $11.

Baxter International (BAX): BAX is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Carnival Corp (CCL): CCL gets cut to Hold from Buy at Topeka.

Coal Companies: Peabody Energy (BTU) is downgraded an unusual 180 degrees, to Underperform from Buy, at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, which moves Walter Energy (WLT) to Neutral from Buy.

Commerzbank (CRZBY): Shares are downgraded to Reduce from Neutral at Nomura.

Crown Castle International (CCI): CCI is now Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie due to valuation concerns. Its price objective is $67.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI): The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster is slashed by both Susquehanna (Neutral from Positive) and JPMorgan (Neutral from Overweight with a new price objective of $61.) Issues include negative industry traffic and menu-transition risks.

Embraer (ERJ): The maker of private jets is now Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

E.ON AG (EONGY): The Germany energy giant gets downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS.

First Commonwealth (FCF): Shares are downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette.

Gartner (IT): IT is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Northland Securities.

Micron (MU): MU is moved to Sector Perform from Outperform at Pacific Crest based on a more cautious view on the outlook for DRAM and PC pricing.

NICE Systems (NICE): NICE is now Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital.

Publicis Groupe (PUBGY): Shares are now Neutral from Overweigh at HSBC Securities.

Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR): The stock is downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Leerink.

Steel Stocks: AK Steel (AKS) is downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup, which takes US Steel (X) to Neutral from Buy.

Sequenom (SQNM): Shares are downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

Stoneridge (SRI): The stock is downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital.

TrueBlue (TBI): The temporary staffing outfit gets taken to Neutral from Buy by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Veeco Instruments (VECO): VECO is slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Mad Men Happy at Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR) and New Stock Coverage: Sally Beauty (NYSE: SBH) Pretty as a Peach.)
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