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Merrill Downgrades Tasty Baking Rating

Merrill Lynch downgraded Tasty Baking (TBC) to near tern neutral from buy and long term buy from strong buy.

Analyst Leonard Teitelbaum says the reasons sighted by Tasty Baking center around competition, and he has no reason to doubt the company. He notes route sales are expected to be particularly soft and that the company's current estimates suggest a range of $0.21-$0.24 for the second quarter, whereas he had a $0.27 estimate but he now thinks $0.22 is doable. While easier comparison sales should be seen in the second half, he believes tough times will continue. Teitelbaum cut his $0.95 2002 earnings per share estimate to $0.85-$0.90, and keeps $1.10-1.15 2003 EPS. He thinks Tasty Baking should affiliate itself with another company.

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