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Salomon Upgrades to 'Outperform'

Salomon Smith Barney upgraded (AMZN) to outperform from in-line.

Analyst Lanny Baker says the online retailer's operating momentum signals a critical point in its development. He says U.S. operations are more profitable, and international operations will swing to profitability for the full year in 2003.

Baker notes fourth quarter results roughly matched his revenue expectations, and beat his profitability forecast despite deeper free shipping losses. He notes net debt of $976 million was reduced by 15% in 2002, and he expects another $200 million reduction in 2003.

Baker raised his 28 cents 2003 earnings per share estimate to 35 cents, and raised his $16.50 target to $26.

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