Banc of America upgraded Williams Sonoma (WSM) to strong buy from market perform.
Analyst Shelly Hale upgraded her rating on the shares on the surprise appointment of Dale Hilpert as CEO. She says Hilpert is a proven leader with a reputation as strong, fiscally responsible operator. Hale expects him to concentrate his efforts on the company's two key assets: Pottery Barn and the Williams-Sonoma brands. Under Hilpert's wing, she says the company could achieve fiscal 2002 (Jan). EPS of $1.40 or more in the wake of a weak calendar 2001. In short, she says Hilpert, in her opinion, is exactly what Williams Sonoma needs.