Downgrades Drag on the Dow

As some investors focus their attention on Capitol Hill today, others are paying more attention to what really matters: business fundamentals. We have heard Ben Bernanke talk and talk over the past few weeks, and it's all been more or less the same speech: Quantitative-easing programs will remain in place for a number of years, with bond-buying programs lasting for the foreseeable future. Investors know this front and back now, so it's rather pointless to continue scrutinizing his congressional testimony today and tomorrow.

While investors may have been hoping for a different speech this morning, they didn't get it, and now it seems things are calming down on Wall Street. After an up-and-down morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up 14 points, or 0.09%, as of 12:55 p.m. EDT. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is up 0.35% and the NASDAQ has risen 0.36%.

Because we at the Fool believe in focusing on what matters, let's dig into a few stocks that are dropping for fundamentally significant reasons.

Shares of McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) are down 0.8% this afternoon on news that a Janney analyst has downgraded the stock. Mark Kalinowski reduced the stock's rating from "buy" to "neutral" and lowered his earnings-per-share estimate for the year by $0.03 to $5.68. While the lower EPS estimate doesn't matter that much -- it was a small move, and the average analyst polled by FactSet pegs full-year earnings at $5.69 -- investors are worried because Kalinowski believes this summer's U.S. sales may come in much lower than what investors are currently predicting. Kalinowski lowered his same-store sales numbers from 2% to 1.1% for June and from 2% to 1.5% for July. 

Shares of American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) have been downgraded by Buckingham, which cites a high valuation. Buckingham also said the proposed transaction-fee cap of 0.2% that the European Commission may impose on credit and debit card purchases could cost American Express as much as $4.5 billion in fees. AmEx shares are down 2.2% today.

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