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Banc of America Pares Applebee's Rating

Banc of America downgraded Applebee's (APPB) to buy from strong buy.

Analyst Andrew Barish says the downgrade is based solely on stock price action. He says he still recommends the purchase but the stock is just 5% below his original $45 target, calling for a less aggressive stance. However, he raised the target to $50. Barish says the company reported a strong Q1. He still believes new menu initiatives, new advertising and other operating/financial initiatives will drive accelerating same-store sales and EPS gains through 2001. He raisted his $2.73 2001 EPS estimate to $2.78 and sees $3.15 EPS for 2002.

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