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First Union Ups McDonald's

First Union upgrades shares of McDonald's Corp. (MCD) to strong buy from buy.

Analyst Jeff Omohundro says given that shares currently are trading at about 16.5 times his $1.53 2001 EPS estimate, he thinks concerns over the recent soft sales trends in Europe and the unfavorable currency exchange may be more-than-fully reflected in the price.

He believes the company's efforts to improve sales results in Europe and the U.S. could help to drive EPS growth, and sees significant share-price appreciation in upcoming quarters. Omohundro cites the company's focus in the U.S. on food quality and variety with its "New Tastes" menu.

He sees $1.75 2002 EPS, and has a $39 12-18-month price target.

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