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Lehman Boosts Home Depot to 'Strong Buy'

Lehman Brothers upgraded Home Depot (HD) to strong buy from buy.

Analyst Alan Rifkin says he upgraded the home improvement company after being somewhat cautious for the past one and a half years. He has increased confidence in the company's estimated EPS of $1.23 for fiscal 2002 (Jan.) and $1.50 EPS for fiscal 2003. He says sales comparisons are poised to accelerate in the second half, as the Fed's aggressive moves provide a backdrop. Rifkin notes easier sales and lumber sales comparisons also will contribute.

Longer term, Rifkin thinks appliances can contribute 1%-2% to sales comparisons. He says Home Depot's new initiative is poised for a chainwide rollout, and he believes it will drive the average ticket, improve service, and boost sales comparisons. Rifkin says the management team is strong despite recent retirements. He has a $55 target.

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