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Merrill Downgrades 99 Cents to 'Neutral'

Merrill Lynch downgraded 99 Cents (NDN) to neutral from buy.

On Tuesday the company posted 28 cents vs. 23 cents fourth quarter earnings per share. Analyst Daniel Barry says the strong growth rate of the company will likely be slowed this year by its plans to enter the Texas market, as well as by its recently purchased distribution center. Barry sees the stock price momentum slowing along with profits, so he downgraded.

He thinks these factors will result in earnings gains in the first three quarters of 2003 that are below the retailer's normal 20% annual rate. As such, he cut the 2003 earnings per share estimate by five cents, to 98 cents, below the company's guidance of a 20% advance. Barry sees $1.22 for 2004.

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