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Salomon Boosts Procter & Gamble Rating

Salomon Smith Barney upgraded Procter & Gamble (PG) to outperform from neutral.

Analyst Wendy Nicholson says after having been neutral on Procter & Gamble since mid 1998, she finally thinks the worst may be behind. She notes the company isn't out of the woods yet, adding that market shares are still weak, pricing has come down in several big businesses and competition still is intense.

However, with easier comparisons for both sales and operating income growth ahead, there are early signs that the company is getting more focused. With Procter & Gambles's relatively attractive valuation at 17 times Nicholson's calendar 2002 EPS, she thinks near-term upside potential exists She raised her $3.10 fiscal 2001 (June) EPS estimate to $3.12 and sees $3.32 for 2002.

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