Stock Analysts’ downgrades for Monday, October 9th:

Becton, Dickinson and (NYSE:BDX) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Over the past year, Becton, Dickinson and Company, popularly known as BD, has outperformed the broader industry trends with respect to price performance. The company is steadily progressing with its planned acquisition of medical technology player, C. R. Bard. The $24-billion transaction is slated to be completed in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017. Post completion, BD expects growth in adjusted earnings starting fiscal 2019. We view the acquisition as a strategic fit which will generate benefits from complementary businesses and geographical expansion. BD's cost-control initiatives are also noteworthy. On the flipside, unfavorable sales performance from the BD Medical segment is a concern in the near term. Performance in the segment was affected by sluggishness in the Medication Management Solutions and Pharmaceutical Systems units in the U.S.”

Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Big Lots’ shares have outperformed the industry in the past three months owing to better-than-expected second-quarter fiscal 2017 results and encouraging earnings outlook. Moreover, the top line also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate after missing the same in the trailing four quarters on account of robust performance of furniture and soft home. Following the results, management raised fiscal 2017 earnings guidance but remained somewhat cautious about its sales and comparable store sales performance. Sales growth for the full year is predicted to be in the range of 2-2.5%, compared with earlier guided range of 2-3%. Meanwhile, both furniture financing programs and soft home have been consistently gaining traction. However, the challenging retail landscape, aggressive promotional strategies and waning store traffic might weigh on the performance. Of late, estimates have been stable for both third quarter and fiscal 2017.”

Commerce Bancshares (NASDAQ:CBSH) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Commerce Bancshares have marginally underperformed the industry in the past three months. Nonetheless, the company’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. The bank's efforts to expand its footprint in newer markets and an improving rate scenario are projected to boost revenues further. Also, strong loan and deposit growth should support its profitability. However, continuously rising expenses are expected to hurt bottom-line growth. Further, the company’s significant exposure to real estate loans remains a major near-term concern.”

CNO Financial Group (NYSE:CNO) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “CNO Financial's shares have outperformed the industry in last one year.  Consistent strong performance from its Washington National segment  has been boosting the top line significantly. Soiid liquidity has supported investment in key initiatives like agent productivity, geographic expansion, product launches, worksite platform distribution as well as enhancement of operating efficiencies and customer retention. In addition, it is strategizing to reduce long-term care exposure via run-off of existing non-performing businesses and increasing focus on growth of other potential business lines. Strong capital management supports its long-term growth. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 and 2018 earnings being revised upward in the past 60 days. However, the company's Long-term Care business continues to remain under pressure. Also its rising level of debt keeps weighing on the bottom line.”

Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Costco continues to be one of the dominant retail wholesalers based on the breadth and quality of merchandise offered. The stock has outpaced the industry in a year gaining from sturdy comps performance and upbeat results in fourth-quarter fiscal 2017. Costco seems somewhat unfazed by tough retail scenario, comprising soft traffic and inclination toward online shopping. Moreover, we believe that the hike in annual membership fees and higher penetration of Citi Visa co-brand card program will also benefit the stock. We are also encouraged by Costco’s expansion strategy, as it remains committed to opening new clubs and expanding e-commerce capabilities. However, stiff competition and cautious consumer spending remain threats. Further, investors remain concerned about the contraction in gross margin and marginal decline in membership renewal rates that is expected to continue for at least a quarter or two. These may hurt the bottom line.”

Cousins Properties (NYSE:CUZ) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Cousin Properties have outperformed the industry it belongs to, year to date. Nonetheless, the stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for third-quarter and current-year funds from operations (FFO) per share being unchanged in a month’s time. The company’s unmatched portfolio of Class A office assets located in the Sun Belt markets auger well for long term growth. Moreover, in August, Cousins Properties and Hines announced signing a lease with software giant SAP at 8000 Avalon in Atlanta, GA. This contract brings a high-quality tenant to the company’s roster. Further, in a bid to optimize its portfolio, the company closed the merger with Parkway Properties and spun-off the Houston-based assets. This move also enabled the company to exit the challenging Houston office market. However, stiff competition and hike in interest rates remain concerns.”

Global Payments (NYSE:GPN) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Global Payments' shares have outperformed its industry year to date. The company incurred significant debt to fund the Heartland acquisition. This also pushed up interest expenses, which have dented the company’s bottom line. Further, an increase in interest expenses may reduce the company’s operating cash flow and could hinder its ability to fund operations, capital expenditures, acquisitions, share repurchases or dividends. Global Payments derives nearly 30% of its revenues from international operations, so it remains exposed to changes in currency exchange rates. Nevertheless, the company’s investment in future growth, efforts to progress with the Heartland integration and successfully refinancing its credit facilities bode well for the long term.”

HSBC Holdings PLC (NYSE:HSBC) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong-buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of HSBC on NYSE have outperformed the industry in the last six months. Continued success of its cost saving efforts should improve the bank’s operating efficiency and support profitability. The company will likely benefit from its extensive global network and solid asset growth. Further, the announcement of $2 billion share repurchase plan reflects its strong capital position and boosts investors’ confidence in the stock. However, dismal European economic growth and weak loan demand are expected to lead to muted revenue growth in the near-term. Also, regulatory probes and litigations related to past business mal-practices continue to adversely impact the company’s financials.”

Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:IART) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Over the last six months, Integra Lifesciences has been trading above the broader industry. Moreover, the strong year over year increase in revenue on the back of solid performance of its Orthopedics and Tissue Technologies’ segment buoys optimism. We believe the company’s recent product diversification bolstered investors’ confidence, thereby boosting the stock price further. On the flip side, the company exited the second quarter of 2017 on somewhat disappointing note with earnings in line with the estimates and revenues missing the mark. We are concerned about the currency headwind that is expected to affect Integra’s financial performance in the rest of 2017. Also, contraction in adjusted operating margin and adjusted gross margin adds to the woes.”

Lincoln Electric Holdings (NASDAQ:LECO) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Lincoln Electric does not anticipate any measurable contribution from the Air Liquide Welding's acquisition during the third quarter due to lower volume activity in Europe. Notably, the company continued to increase investment in product development with higher year-over-year R&D spending. Though this has long-term benefits, it will impede margins in the near term. Moreover, Lincoln Electric's results will be hurt by elevated interest expenses, stronger U.S. dollar and dismal industrial production. Year to date, Lincoln Electric has underperformed the industry's return on the back of these factors.”

Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Motorola Solutions have outperformed its industry in a year. The company has an impressive track record with respect to earnings having surpassed estimates in each of the preceding four quarters. We expect the company to deliver impressive bottom-line performances in the coming quarters as well, driven by its strong product portfolio. In keeping with its growth-by-acquisition strategy, the company recently completed the acquisition of Kodiak Networks. The buyout has strengthened its software product portfolio. Last year, it acquired Spillman Technologies with a similar objective. We are also impressed by Motorola’s efforts to reward its investors through dividend payments and buybacks. However, currency related headwinds might hurt the stock going forward. The company's high debt levels also remain a concern.”

M&T Bank Corporation (NYSE:MTB) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of M&T Bank have underperformed the industry over the past six months. Yet, the company has a decent earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in three of the trailing four quarters. M&T Bank’s top-line growth looks encouraging given its diverse fee income base, and consistent rise in deposits and loan growth amid an improving economy. Also, following the Fed interest rate hikes, the pressure on company’s margin has eased. Though, mounting costs resulting from ongoing investments remain a hindrance for bottom-line growth, M&T Bank’s involvement in steady capital deployment activities boosts shareholders’ confidence. Moreover, a stretched valuation limits upside potential.”

MasTec (NYSE:MTZ) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a strong-buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “MasTec currently estimates 2017 annual revenue of approximately $6.0 billion, a year-over-year improvement of 5%. Annual adjusted EBITDA is now projected to increase 30% on a year-over-year basis to $620 million while adjusted earnings per share will be around $2.73, a 44% increase over 2016. In its wireline and wireless communication markets, significant expansion related to both 5G and fiber deployment will benefit its communications business. MasTec outperformed the industry in the past one year. Its estimates have gone up lately. The company’s performance in Canada continues to be weak. In the Communications segment, the company has been experiencing production inefficiencies in its install-to-home operations as well as the negative leverage effect of reduced home security, customer fulfillment activity and the exit of the customer phone delivery drop. Also its high debt level remains a concern.”

Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Nasdaq have underperformed the industry, in a year’s time. Also, the company witnessed its 2017 and 2018 estimates moving south over the last 60 days. Its elevated expenses restrict the desired margin expansion. Intense competition and regulatory issues remain key concerns. Nonetheless, Nasdaq remains focused on growth through acquisitions and organic initiatives that enable entry and cross-selling opportunities into new markets at a low-cost and highly-flexible platform. It displays prudence by accelerating its non-transaction revenue base. It realigned its reporting segments to better reflect client orientation, rebranded its fixed income business and has decided to end its NLX interest rate futures business as well. It had identified $10-$20 million in additional cost synergies and expects to deploy capital in de-leveraging over the next four quarters, investing in growth initiatives and engaging in shareholders friendly moves.”

Annaly Capital Management (NYSE:NLY) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Shares of Annaly have outperformed the industry year to date. However, the stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 earnings being revised downward in a month’s time.Notably, the company is making efforts to diversify its investment and funding options. Recently, the company announced a common stock offering of 65 million shares. Moreover, a strong financial position has enabled the company to pay a constant dividend for 15 consecutive quarters. Moving ahead, Annaly’s prudent selection of assets, diversified investment and financing options, as well as exposure to high-quality mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) are anticipated to support bottom-line growth. However, the company faces stiff competition from other financial institutions. Further, adverse macro-economic conditions and any rise in rate of interest may add to the company’s woes.”

Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE:NVO) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Novo Nordisk’s second-quarter results topped earnings, but missed revenue estimates. The company has a strong pipeline, primarily focusing on therapeutic proteins within insulin, GLP-1, blood clotting factors and human growth hormone. The company has a strong presence in the Diabetes care market with a global value market share of 27%. The segment is driven by strong performance of drugs like Victoza, Tresiba, Saxenda and Xultophy among others. Novo Nordisk’s stock movement has outperformed the industry. However, we believe continued growth from Victoza and Tresiba as well as higher contributions from Saxenda and Xultophy will be partly offset by the impact of lower realized prices in the U.S., loss of exclusivity for products in hormone replacement therapy, intensifying competition within the diabetes and biopharmaceuticals markets and macroeconomic conditions in many markets under International Operations.”

Pacira Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PCRX) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Pacira's efforts to expand Exparel's label to boost sales in oral surgery and chronic pain are encouraging. The company also remains optimistic of its partnership with J&J to market and promote the use of Exparel, with their sales and medical education teams. Going forwad, Pacira is looking to expand Exparel's label in the animal health market as well. Shares of the company have outperformed the industry year to date. However, Pacira’s dependence on its key marketed drug, Exparel, for top-line growth is concerning. The company also discontinued the production of DepoCyt(e) due to persistent technical issues specific to DepoCyt.”

Quanta Services (NYSE:PWR) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a hold rating to a sell rating. According to Zacks, “Quanta Services has a dreadful earnings history – with three consecutive earnings misses over the trailing four quarters. Lack of a commissioner quorum in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) has put up a lot of major projects on hold, adding to the company’ woes. In addition, seasonality and the cancellation of pipeline projects in the oil and gas business are likely to impact the company’s backlog. Also, intensifying competition in the industry and currency fluctuations are affecting the company’s profits. However, over the past one year, shares of Quanta Services have outperformed that of the industry. The company remains confident about the prospects of its end markets over the next two years. The company believes CAPEX and OPEX spends will continue to rise as customers are contemplating undertaking work worth billions of dollars.”

WellCare Health Plans (NYSE:WCG) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “In the last one year, Wellcare Health’s shares have outperformed the industry. The company’s robust inorganic growth is impressive. The recent acquisition of Care1st Arizona is expected to further help in growing faster. Its healthy balance sheet continues to support its operational and financial excellence. Wellcare Health has also been witnessing revenue growth over the last six years. The company has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for both 2017 and 2018 earnings being revised upward in the last 60 days. Following the strong second-quarter 2017 results, the company has raised its guidance for 2017. However, the company's rising level of debt not only increases financial risk but also hurt the bottom line. Continuous increase in the total expenses also keeps weighing on the margins. The company is set to release its third quarter results before the market opens on Oct 31, 2017.”

Westport Fuel Systems (NASDAQ:WPRT) (TSE:WPT) was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a buy rating to a hold rating. According to Zacks, “Westport Fuel Systems frequently engages in investments and acquisitions related to technologies and businesses, which helps the company to commercialize its products and increase its global presence. Further, to boost its sales figure and improve its financials, the company regularly launches new products and engages in sale of its non-core assets. The company also maintains strong strategic relationships with leading truck and automotive producers, enabling it to improve its distribution and sales networks. Moreover, its shares have also outperformed the industry it belongs to over the last three months.”

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