Sell? Or Sell!!!

Goldman Sachs today removed Northrop Grumman from its Conviction Sell list and upgraded it to...Sell.

What is THAT supposed to mean?

One reader suggested it means "Sell!" instead of "Sell!!!" Another said it means "sell", sotto voce, uttered very quietly.

Technically it's not an upgrade, just a, well, feeling(?), that analysts still don't like the stock, but they're less passionate in their hatred.

The Goldman report explains it this way: "While we remove Northrop from the CL-Sell List, it remains Sell rated and our thesis is unchanged. However, it likely has less of a pension issue in 2010 than peers, and a sale of its TASC business is possible near-term, as has been widely reported. Since NOC was added to the CL-Sell List on May 18, 2009, shares have risen 6% vs a 16% gain in the S&P 500. Over the last 12 months, shares have fallen 7% vs a 6% rise in the S&P 500."

So...sell...if you feel like it...it's no biggie...there are bigger fish to fry/sell.

Meantime, Goldman downgraded L-3 to Sell from Neutral, saying it is more negative on L-3 than Northrop, but apparently not soooo negative to have any conviction about it.

Overall, the report is bearish on the defense sector, which may not surprise most of you who've noticed we've an administration in place for ten months now which was elected, in part, on promises to wind down the war.

Goldman, however, also adds that "valuation (of defense stocks) is not as inexpensive as it appears." The report is "incrementally negative" (as opposed to negative by leaps and bounds?) on the fourth quarter, saying it is seasonally weak historically. Also we should expect more "unfavorable rhetoric".

So sell. Incrementally.

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