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UBS Financial Cuts Providian to 'Neutral'

Providian Financial (PVN) reported third-quarter EPS of 29 cents on a 21% revenue decline. UBS Financial cut its recommendation on the shares to neutral from buy.

Analyst Eric Wasserstrom says margin, fee income, and other metrics were weaker than expected in the third quarter. As a result, he cut his 67 cents 2003 EPS estimate to 63 cents, and $1.15 2004 forecast to $1.05.

In addition, he says the shares are currently within 8% of his target price. He believes the valuation fairly reflects the success of the company's turn-around efforts, which have driven significant credit improvements over past several quarters. He thinks the growth focus suggests that a possible sale of the company will not occur in the second half of 2004; and may be pushed into the future.

He has a $14 price target, reflecting 10% premium on PVN's portfolio.

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