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Citigroup Upgrades Lexmark to 'Buy'

Citigroup upgraded Lexmark (LXK) to buy from hold.

Analyst Craig Ellis says his recent walks through stores to evaluate shelf space for the printer maker's products left him encouraged. Compared with the second quarter, he saw expansion at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Staples; he also sees good positioning at Target and Circuit City. Overall, he believes Lexmark's product availability, and the absence of overly aggressive pricing, augurs well for the second half of the year.

Ellis raised the 69 cents third-quarter earnings per share estimate to 70 cents, and upped the $3.00 2003 estimate to $3.03, he also raised the $3.30 2004 estimate to $3.35. His new estimates reflect inkjet and laser product releases in the third quarter and signs of good shelf space, but also lower inkjet average selling prices. He says third-quarter results are due out Oct. 20. He upped the $75 target to $77.

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