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First Albany Upgrades Bebe Stores to 'Buy'

First Albany upgraded Bebe Stores (BEBE) to buy from neutral.

Analyst Harry Ikenson says he sees June comparison-store sales of positive 3%, and fourth quarter comparison-store sales of 2.8%, above Bebe's guidance of flat fourth-quarter comparison-store sales, which implies negative 5%-7% comparison-store sales in June. Ikenson thinks production issues, which resulted in a lack of sufficient inventory, are largely resolved. Also, he believes product flow has been improving since April, leaving Bebe poised to deliver positive comparison-store sales.

As a result, Ikenson raised his 8 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share estimate to 12 cents, vs. Bebe's guidance of 6 cents to 9 cents. He also upped the fiscal 2003 (June) earnings per share estimate to 74 cents, from 70 cents, and raised fiscal 2004's estimate to 97 cents from 90 cents. Ikenson set a $25 target.

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