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CS First Boston: Kraft Takes the Cake

Credit Suisse First Boston upgraded Kraft (KFT) to strong buy from buy.

Analyst David Nelson says fourth quarter results were in line with estimates, with high quality driven by 5.3% volume growth on a comparable basis. After weak volumes from Kraft, Sara Lee and Hershey Foods recently, Nelson notes Kraft's numbers are welcome. He says volume plus cost-cutting has provided power leverage to expand operating margins by 200 basis points. Volume was driven in large part by new product innovation, with new products accounting for $1.1 billion, or about 3% of sales. He says this is the lifeblood of any food company, and Kraft does it as well as anyone. He sees $2.02 2002 cash EPS.

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