Downgrades Hit a Few Dow Stocks


Now that earnings season has begun, company financials seem to be taking the spotlight from the political issues in Washington and the economic problems around the world -- as they should. With no major surprises thus far from company earnings, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is slightly higher today. As of 12:55 p.m. EST, the Dow is up 29 points, or 0.22%, to 13,420. The S&P 500 is making gains as well, up 0.35%, while the NASDAQ is at breakeven.

Nine of the Dow's 30 components are in the red so far. Three of the index's biggest losers are Microsoft , Coca-Cola , and Wal-Mart .

So why are they down?
Shares of Microsoft and Coke are down 1.5% and 0.3%, respectively, after analysts downgraded the stocks today. Morgan Stanley cut Microsoft from "overweight" to "equal-weight," citing disappointing Windows 8 sales as the reason for the lower rating. This comes just days after Microsoft announced that the company had sold 60 million licenses and upgrades for the new operating system, which was launched just 10 weeks ago. The company's chief financial officer, Tami Reller, also noted that these sales numbers are in line with those of Microsoft's last operating-system launch (Windows 7 was released back in 2009).

Coke was downgraded by Argus from "buy" to "hold." The analyst cited increased concerns about a slowdown in North American carbonated-beverage sales, slower-than-expected growth in China, and a weak European market as reasons for the rating change.

Another big Dow loser today is Wal-Mart, whose shares are down 0.5% after emails were released that may prove that top Wal-Mart executives knew about briberies in Mexico since 2005. The alleged bribery scandal stems from reports that Walmex, Wal-Mart's Mexican affiliate, used bribes to gain access to favorable property locations that the company would not otherwise have recieved.

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Matt Thalman owns shares of Microsoft. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513. The Motley Fool recommends The Coca-Cola Company. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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