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Buckingham Research Ups Circuit City to 'Strong Buy'

Buckingham Research upgraded Circuit City Stores (CC) to strong buy from neutral. Buckingham has a $15 price target on the shares.

Analyst Daniel Binder sees a good chance that January and February sales trends picked up from December. He raised his fourth-quarter comparable-store sales estimate to 1.6% from flat; this implies 6% comp gain in the January-February period. He notes acceleration in business should bode well for inventory levels.

Binder thinks gross margin will stabilize next quarter due to a new warranty program, and his belief that Circuit City will switch back to a 15% stocking fee model on returns of certain items (similar to Best Buy (BBY)). He feels management will provide details on the next earnings conference call about possible cost cutting programs.

He sees a loss of 2 cents per share in fiscal year 2004. He increased his fiscal 2005 earnings per share forecast from 43 cents to 50 cents.

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