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Cree, Highwoods ratings cut by analysts

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Wall Street analysts are betting that two Triangle companies' stocks are due for a breather after recent rallies.

Highwoods Properties, the Raleigh real-estate trust, was downgraded by Wells Fargo Securities analyst Brendan Maiorana, to "underperform" from "market perform." And Cree, the Durham LED manufacturer, was cut to "hold" from "buy" by Theodore O'Neill of Kaufman Bros.

Both stocks fell today.

Highwoods' shares (ticker symbol HIW) have performed well recently, climbing 43 percent in the past six months. But the market for suburban office real estate remains rocky and rising interest rates could hurt Highwoods' cash flow, Maiorana wrote.

"Although HIW has improved its portfolio over the past several years, we expect core fundamentals will weaken (along with the rest of the suburban office REIT group), while acquisitions may be slow to materialize," he wrote.

Highwoods shares fell 46 cents to $28.90 today.

Cree's stock (ticker symbol CREE) also has surged during the past six months, rising 83 percent, as interest in green lighting fuels demand in its products.

"Given the optimism in the market, we would not be surprised to see Cree shares climb higher, but the stock has reached our target ($36) and we would recommend investors remain on the sidelines until the shares represent a better buying opportunity," O'Neill wrote.

Cree shares fell 76 cents to $35.72.

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About the blogger

Assistant Business Editor Alan M. Wolf joined the N&O in 1999 covering the business of health care. He became an editor in 2001, and helps oversee the paper's daily business coverage and Sunday Work&Money section. He lives in Clayton with his wife and two children. Reach him at 919-829-4572 or e-mail him.