Afternoon Stocks Watch: APEI; PRGO; MAIN; CSG; NCT

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American Public Education (NASDAQ:APEI) was the target Friday of an investment-rating downgrade by BMO Capital Markets, which cut the stock to market perform from outperform following the online-postsecondary education provider’s late-Thursday release of lower-than-expected Q4 earnings and Q1 EPS guidance that was well below the Street view.

BMO also cut its target price on APEI, lowering it to $36 from $44. In a note to clients, BMO analyst Jeffrey Silber said “While military net course registrations have been shrinking for some time (down to 34% of net course registration in 2013 from roughly 50% in 2010), there seems to be no end in sight.” He said while the backdrop wasn’t a surprise, the impact on APEI has been.

Silber added, “while we still believe APEI’s core schools’ high quality and low price point establishes the company as one of the best positioned in this space, the other factors it is facing give us some pause.”

The stock was inactive in recent pre-market trading after closing Thursday at $46.25, near its 52-week high of $46.69.

Perrigo Company (TLV:PRGO) said it has acquired a number of over-the-counter products sold in Australia and New Zealand from Aspen Global for $51 million in cash.  The maker and distributor of among others OTC and generic prescription pharmaceuticals said the products include Herron analgesics, vitamins and supplements that are primarily sold through the mass retail channel. The products are expected to generate at least $20 million in annual sales.

Financial shares were mixed in the pre-market session Friday ahead of U.S. growth data as a few financial institutions reported earnings.  In financial stocks news, Main Street Capital (NYSE:MAIN) reported net income for Q4 of $57 per share, up from 26% a year prior.  And, Chambers Street Properties (NYSE:CSG) reported Q4 FFO of $0.17 per share, edging past the Street view of $0.16 per share. Revenue of $65.23 million was short of the $66 million Street view.  Finally, Newcastle Investment Corp. (NYSE:NCT) reported Q4 core earnings of $0.08, below the $0.09 per share the Street expected.

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