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Salomon Downgrades Merrill Lynch

Salomon Smith Barney downgraded Merrill Lynch (MER) 59) to neutral from buy.

Analyst Guy Moszkowski says the Merrill cited lower

volumes, volatility, and decimalization-induced spread contraction. Also, Merrill Lynch will not have the fixed-income offsets that other firms enjoyed in Q2, and also has limited participation in commodities, energy and mortgages. Moszkowski says the company's lowered guidance is a possible harbinger for other financial services firms, although Merrill seems more affected than others on its business mix.

He cut the $0.79 Q2 estimate to $0.55, and cut the $0.83 Q3 estimate to $0.59. He also cut the $85 target to $72.

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