Why Lowe's Companies, Inc. Went Lower Today

While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a closer look at particularly stock-shaking upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.

What: Shares of Lowe's Companies  (NYSE: LOW  ) slipped about 1% this morning after Wedbush downgraded the home-improvement giant from outperform to neutral.

So what: Along with the downgrade, analyst Seth Basham lowered his price target to $50 (from $60), pretty much in line with the stock's current levels. While momentum traders might be attracted to the company's share price strength over the past year, Basham thinks that Mr. Market is currently underestimating the housing market headwinds working against its near-term growth.

Now what: According to Wedbush, Lowe's risk/reward trade-off is pretty balanced at this point. "While we continue to believe LOW is now positioned to maintain or gain share as burgeoning operational momentum takes hold, a slowing housing market may pressure comps by 50-100 bps more than expected in 2014, with the impact primarily in the back half of the year," cautioned Basham. "Traffic will likely stall first, followed by ticket in late 2014/early 2015." When you couple that possible sluggishness with Lowe's 20-plus P/E, it's tough to disagree with Wedbush's cautious stance. 

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