Valspar cut despite positives

Valspar, the Minneapolis-based paint and coatings company, saw its stock outperform most in its industry group in 2014, with a 23 percent total return for the year.

Analysts for Credit Suisse, writing a 2015 outlook report for the chemicals industry, think the group, which includes Valspar, will outperform the S&P 500 index in 2015. They expect falling input prices to boost the average return in the chemicals group to 18 percent, compared to 6 percent for the S&P 500.

Having already outpaced its industry group in 2014 and having to absorb the loss of a major paint customer this fall, analyst John McNulty is reluctantly downgrading Valspar from "neutral" to "underperform" in part because Credit Suisse policy is to have roughly 10 percent of a coverage universe rated "underperform."

"We think the stock will likely take a pause in 2015," McNulty wrote. "While we don't expect VAL to be down in 2015, with what we expect to be single digit upside, we don't think it will keep pace with the broader group."

retailers could go private

In 2010, St. Paul-based outdoors and sporting goods retailer Gander Mountain went private after spending several years as a public company. Now it looks as if a couple of other notable outdoors and sporting goods retailers are looking to go private as well.

Last week Reuters reported that Dick's Sporting Goods, based in Coraopolis, Penn., was holding early stage discussions with some buyout groups to take the company private.

Wells Fargo analyst Matt Nemer wrote a note on the speculation surrounding Dick's but also listed another publicly held outdoors retailer as likely to turn private.

"We believe Cabela's is a better candidate for a private-equity transaction," Nemer wrote.

Patrick Kennedy