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Merrill Lynch Upgrades Ciena to 'Neutral'

Merrill Lynch upgraded Ciena Corp (CIEN) to neutral from sell based on an improved fiscal year 2004 outlook.

Analyst Tal Liani says a recent meeting with management confirmed his view of industry stability, and gave him better understanding of Ciena's opportunities. Liani raised his rating based on his expectations for cost cuts and belief in improving sales pipeline. He notes long-term contracts in pipeline that could materialize include: Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) for Wavesmith products; AT&T for long-haul WDM; and DoD for optical transpor and switching.

Management noted quarterly fluctuations are possible, but he thinks the long-term picture is more promising than 6 to 12 months ago. The analyst sees a loss per share of 40 cents in fiscal year 2003 (ending October) and a loss of 22 cents in fiscal year 2004.

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