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Merrill Upgrades Fresh Del Monte to 'Buy'

Merrill Lynch upgraded Fresh Del Monte (FDP) to buy from neutral.

Analyst Leonard Teitelbaum says he had lowered his opinion given his belief that the filing of a lawsuit stemming from a transaction occurring in 1996 would prove to be a needless distraction for investors. He thinks this risk is assimilated into the stock at current levels. He notes as time passes, the impact of this headline news should dissipate; he thinks the multiple will reflect earnings potential.

Teitelbaum says his comfort level in new product initiatives has risen, adding strength to his earnings convictions. He sees $3.80 2003 earnings per share, and $3.95 per share for 2004. He also set a $32 target.

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