Credit Suisse First Boston upgraded Atlantic Coast Airlines ACAI to neutral from underperform.
Analyst James Higgins says the odds of liquidation of United Airlines, which generates about 85% of Atlantic Coast's business, is falling to more acceptable levels of about 20% probability. He says the operating margin outlook for the airline has improved. He thinks Atlantic Coast's stock is over-discounting the reasonable worst-case scenario. He notes shares have hugely lagged airline peers since November.
Higgins says he's far more comfortable with the downside risk than he has been in the past. He raised his 60 cents 2003 earnings per share estimate to 71 cents, and sees $1.08 2004 earnings per share. He has a $12 12-month target.