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Salomon Hikes UST Inc. Opinion

Salomon Smith Barney upgraded its investment rating on shares of UST Inc. (UST) to buy from outperform.

Analyst Martin Feldman says that while UST is trading close to its 52-week high, he now thinks it may appreciate to $41 or higher over the next 12 months. In essence, he continues to expect 2002 net income and EPS to grow by 7.3% and 4.5%, respectively; and sees $3.10 2002 EPS. In 2003, Feldman sees substantial opportunity for the company to enhance returns to shareholders due to better operating fundamentals, and a high possibility that the Conwood litigation is resolved. Feldman raised his $3.25 2003 EPS forecast to $3.34 on the belief that UST, in 2003, will reinitiate its buyback program regardless of the outcome of its appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Conwood case.

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