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Merrill Lynch Upgrades International Multifoods

Merrill Lynch upgraded International Multifoods (IMC) to near-term buy from neutral. Merrill kept its long-term buy rating on the shares.

Yesterday, the company posted $0.30 fourth quarter EPS from operations on a 13% revenue rise. Analyst Leonard Teitelbaum tells S&P MarketScope that results were in line with his estimates. Based on a multiple for the food group overall, the analysts says he could see a streamlined IMC selling in the $27-$29 range.

The analyst notes that IMC has spent the last year working on the purchase of certain Pillsbury assets and the sale of its Distribution Group. He thinks it's time to find a buyer, and believes a deal could fetch $125 million in the worst case scenario. He sees $1.90-$2.00 fiscal year 2003 (February) EPS (excluding accounting-related charges), and $2.05-$2.15 in fiscal year 2004.

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