Sealed Air (SEE): Upgrading to 4 STARS (accumulate) from 2 STARS (avoid)
Analyst: Stewart Scharf
SEE rose 50% today as it agrees to pay $512 million in cash and stock to settle asbestos and fraudulent-transfer claims related to the purchase of Cryovac packaging in 1998. This will avoid a Dec. 11 trial date and put bankrupt W.R. Grace issues behind SEE. The stock portion will include 9 million shares; SEE to pay 5.5% interest on the cash amount starting Dec. 21. We expect core protective and flexible packaging units to benefit from an economic rebound, new products, and well controlled operating expenses. At 14 times our 2003 EPS estimate of $2.70, S&P recommends investors add to positions.