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Merrill Hikes Cisco Rating

Merrill Lynch upgraded its investment recommendation on shares of Cisco Systems (CSCO) to near-term strong buy from buy, and kept its strong buy rating.

Analyst Samuel Wilson says fundamentals at Cisco are improving, and he expects the company to show top- and bottom-line out-performance before year end. He says his leading indicators point toward a recovery in communications equipment new orders during the second half of 2002, with revenues following shortly. Wilson sees solid evidence that the company will meet his quarterly financial performance expectations for the fourth quarter. He sees improved stock performance based on valuation expansion and a shift in focus to 2004 earnings mid-next year. The analyst sees $0.36 fiscal 2002 (ending July) EPS from operations, rising to $0.53 in fiscal 2003.

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