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Merrill Ups Allegheny Technologies to Buy'

Merrill Lynch upgraded Allegheny Technologies (ATI) to buy from neutral.

Analyst Daniel Roling says he upgraded on his belief that the specialty materials maker will benefit from an ongoing U.S. economic recovery. He notes the company's military business is strong and its financial liquidity has materially improved, as costs continue to decrease. Additionally, Roling says The Wah Chang unit is running at full capacity, and conditions have stabilized in the the U.S. stainless steel market.

Roling notes Allegheny is investing $35 million for two furnaces at its largest stainless steel flat-rolled melt shop. He has a $13 target, based on an 8.5% weighted average cost of capital and normalized earnings before interest and taxes of $116 million in 2005. This is up from a forecast $50 million in 2004 and an estimated loss of $13 million in 2003.

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