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Prudential Upgrades AnnTaylor Stores to 'Buy'

Prudential upgraded AnnTaylor Stores (ANN) to buy from hold.

Analyst Stacy Pak says while ANN has had a nice bounce off its lows, the stock still one of the cheapest in the group. Additionally, while overall April comps were in line with expectations, the company's Loft business was surprisingly strong and will be the likely driver of the company's low-teen square footage growth going forward.

Although she cut her fiscal year 2004 (January) EPS estimate to $1.77 from $1.80, she kept her forecast of $2.00 for fiscal year 2005. She says she doesn't have huge hopes for the second quarter, and thinks ANN gets a pass due to the upcoming debut of the Mark Eisen line. She raised her price target on the stock to $28.

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