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First Albany Ups Talbots to 'Buy'


First Albany upgraded Talbots (TLB) to buy from neutral.

Analyst Harry Ikenson tells S&P MarketScope he's upgrading Talbots because management, on a conference call, indicated sales trends have improved since the end of October. He cited sales improvements in two key categories that were weak in October: sweaters and casual merchandise. Also, he notes management is stepping up its marketing and advertising program for the fourth quarter; management is planning improvements to the merchandise assortment for spring 2004, including updated feminine styles, new fabrications, novelty prints, and a broader color range.

Ikenson upped the 46 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share estimate to 49 cents, raised the $1.88 fiscal 2004 (Jan.) estimate to $1.92, and raised the $2.21 fiscal 2005 estimate to $2.25. He has a $41 target.


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