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Merrill Downgrades Four Seasons to 'Sell'

Merrill Lynch downgraded Four Seasons (FS) to sell from neutral.

Analyst David Anders says the downgrade was based on valuation, and the belief that an economic slowdown is having a more pronounced effect on the company's earnings. He cut the 92 cents 2003 earnings per share estimate to 75 cents, and sees lower management fees as a result of lower revenue per available growth growth forecast in 2003 (1% vs. the 2% prior estimate), and greater operating losses at its owned properties.

Anders notes, not only are many of Four Seasons' properties currently exposed to a geopolitical risk, but much of its future growth is in emerging markets, where this type of risk is high. He says Four Seasons also is facing several owner/manager disputes in emerging market areas.

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