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Merrill Ups Northern Trust to Near Term Accumulate

Merril Lynch upgraded banking and trust services provider Northern Trust (NTRS) to near term accumulate since a recent price pullback makes for a good buying opportunity.

Analyst Judah Kraushaar said shares are off nearly 30% from their annual high. Apart from the valuation appeal, the analyst likes the company because it is focusing on two high growth businesses - custody and private banking. Management has tightly managed costs over the years and sees more operating leverage going forward. And though other firms are copying Northern's high net worth business model Kraushaar sees little competitive risk to the company.

Kraushaar sees earnings per share of $2.40 in 2001and $2.75 in 2002. He has a 12-month target of $78-.

Northern Trust stock was up 5-1/8, at 69-5/8.

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