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Merrill Cuts Intel Rating

Merrill Lynch cut its rating on Intel Corp. (INTC) to near-term neutral from accumulate and kept the long-term accumulate rating.

Analyst Joseph Osha says he sees no evidence to support a demand recovery scenario, and says the stock is expensive at nearly 50 times its prospective EPS. He says Intel's status as an industry bellwether has allowed the stock to move with the industry in the past. However, as evidence of company-specific problems continue to accumulate, Osha doesn't think that owning the stock in anticipation of a semiconductor industry upturn later this year makes sense. He doesn't believe a rapid EPS recovery is in the cards, and thinks his $0.84 2002 EPS estimate is a best-case scenario. Osha sees $0.67 2001 EPS.

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