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Salomon Raises Hershey Foods to 'Buy'

Salomon Smith Barney upgraded Hershey Foods (HSY) to buy from neutral.

On Tuesday the candy manufacturer reaffirmed it expects 2002 operating earnings per share to meet its 9%-11% growth objective.

Analyst Jaine Mehring says her upgrade is due to a 16% price pullback from a $72 high earlier in the year. She also cited a modest increase in estimates as cost structure improvements were tracking ahead of her expectations.

She raised her $3.10 2002 EPS estimate to $3.13, and upped her $3.35 2003 estimate to $3.40 on better cost structure and efficiencies. Mehring has a $70 target. she notes risks include market instability, competition and cocoa costs.

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