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Merrill Lynch Lowers Comverse Technology to 'Neutral'

Merrill Lynch downgraded Comverse Technology (CMVT) to near-term neutral from accumulate, and long-term neutral from buy.

Analyst Tal Liani thinks the Q2 decline in voicemail sales is not temporary. He says global subscriber model implies more than a 20% decline in demand in 2001, at least a 10% drop per year over the next four years. He previously expected some big contracts, to a $500 million magnitude, to offset some negative near term trends, however, it seems sector uncertainty is only worsening with time, while the sales cycle is lengthening. He notes the company lacks another significant activity to replace voicemail. Liani cut the $1.22 2002 EPS estimate to $0.85.

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