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CSFB Downgrades Sears

Sears (S) sees $0.80-$0.82 third-quarter earnings per share. The company says the president of its credit unit has left the company. Credit Suisse First Boston downgraded the shares to neutral from outperform.

Analyst Michael Exstein says the uncertainty around Sears is now too great for outperform rating. He notes that the company's dependence on the credit business and the cyclical nature of its business is an ongoing source of concern. Exstein says this concern was heightened after the management change. He thinks the shares are likely to be valued more on actual near term EPS than earnings power, much as JC Penney seems to be. The analyst does not foresee any developments able to reverse the negative momentum in the shares in near term. Exstein sees the company posting $5.19 2002 EPS, rising to $5.83 in 2003. He cut his price target to $47.

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