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Lehman Ups PacifiCare to Buy

Lehman Brothers upgraded its investment rating of managed healthcare company PacifiCare Health (PHSY) to buy from market perform because Medicare givebacks to HMOs could boost the company's earnings per share. Pacificare stock rose to 23-3/4, up 6-1/2.

Analyst Lawrence Marsh said Medicare payments, which are due to be implemented in March 2001, could boost 2001 EPS over $2.00. He noted Pacificare was a huge disappointment in 2000, with 2001 EPS estimates of $8.00 cut to $0.80 since Oct. Marsh sees EPS falling "somewhere in the broad middle."

He raised his 2001 EPS of $2.00 to $2.30. He sees the company reporting 2000 EPS of $3.99. Marsh raised his 1-year price target to $35 from $20.

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