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Bear Stearns Sours on Dean Foods

Bear Stearns downgraded Dean Foods (DF) to neutral from attractive. On Friday Dean forecast lower fiscal 2001 results.

Analyst Terry Bivens says the downgrade is due to Dean's inability to hit forecasts and its apparent inability to budget expense items. Bivens cut the $3.01 fiscal 2001 (May) EPS estimate to $2.51, and sees a $3.05-$3.10 range in fiscal 2002. Bivens says the firm's confidence level is not high and that much depends on Dean's ability to restore dairy margins into the 5% range. The shares are trading at 14.2 times the calendar $2.76 EPS estimate and 26% ahead of Suiza Foods. Although takeover speculation may hold up shares, the analyst suspects weaker than expected fundamentals will at some point be reflected in the stock.

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