Wall to Wall Street Coverage: Upgrades and Downgrades

Stocks rose for a third straight session, though a late day fade left equities barely in the black and kept the Dow in the red for the year. Black and white and read ink all over was the New York Times (NYT), which slipped 1.45% after The Wall Street Journal announced it will soon start a Big Apple section. Barron’s fared little better, another victim of the cover curse as its current front page pinup General Motors joined the recall rage on the day it fell below Ford (F) in auto sales for the first time in 50 years. Overall market volume — which was once again anorexic — failed to help weight loss leader NutriSystem (NTRI) as it slid 15.98%. The company blamed belt tightening on the part of consumers, an odd excuse for a diet darling.

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It may soon find salvation in the unlikely form of arguably our skinniest ever president, who is off to an inauspicious start in his attempt to lick high cholesterol. [Read the full article]

La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company today announced that it received notification from the Nasdaq Hearings Panel that the Panel has determined to deny the Company request for continued listing on The Nasdaq Stock Market and that trading of the Company’s common stock will be suspended effective at the open of business on Thursday, March 4, 2010. The Panel determined that the Company is operating as a “public shell” because of the Company nominal assets, other than cash, and the Company nominal operations.

The Company also announced that holders of only thirteen percent (13%) of La Jolla outstanding common stock returned their proxy cards or otherwise indicated their votes with respect to proposals related to its proposed merger with Adamis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (OTCBB: ADMP – News), prior to the start of the stockholders meeting. [Read the full article]

The departure of two executives who help run Activision Blizzard Inc.’s popular “Call of Duty” video game franchise won’t hurt the company’s earnings in the near term, according to one analyst.

“At this point, we do not view the news as material” for earnings estimates this year or next, William Blair & Co. analyst Ralph Schackart told clients in a note Wednesday. He kept an “Outperform” rating on the stock.

Activision said late Tuesday that Jason West and Vince Zampella are no longer with the company. The company also announced it will form a new business unit focused on the “Call of Duty” franchise, aimed at developing online content and expanding the brand.

“While we are encouraged by (Activision’s) efforts to further expand the franchise, we remain concerned with the loss of key talent,” said Shawn Milne, of Janney Capital Markets.

Milne kept a “Buy” rating on the Santa Monica, Calif. [Read the full article]

US Airways Group Inc. said Wednesday that severe winter storms on the East Coast in February cost it $30 million in lost sales as the carrier had to cancel thousands of flights and suspend operations for six days at three major airports.

The airline said it canceled 7.1 percent of its flights last month because of the storms — the highest cancellation rate since it was acquired by America West in 2005.

US Airways, which has more departures on the East Coast than any other airline, said its traffic fell to 3.85 billion revenue passenger miles from 4.04 billion a year earlier. A revenue passenger mile represents one paying passenger flown one mile.

The number of available seats, called the airline’s capacity, also fell as the carrier was forced to park planes to wait out the snow. [Read the full article]

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