Analyst action: Cracker Barrel, hospitals

Chris O'Cull at KeyBanc Capital Markets says food cost inflation at Cracker Barrel is likely to be at the high end of the company's range, which will cut into earnings growth. He has trimmed his EPS target for 2012 and lowered his rating to 'hold' from 'buy.' That has Cracker Barrel shares (Ticker: CBRL) giving up almost 3 percent. Year to date, they've risen about 25 percent.

Over in California, Attorney General Kamala Harris has begun investigating whether the increasingly tight ties between doctors and hospitals might be driving up the price of care. But Gary Lieberman at Wells Fargo doesn't see a threat to the prices of hospital stocks, including those of HCA Holdings and Community Health Systems. He continues to rate both at 'outperform.' Investors also seem unperturbed and are bidding up hospital company shares big time today, pushing LifePoint to its highest level in almost seven years and HCA and CHS to 14-month and 16-month highs, respectively.