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First Albany Keeps 'Buy' on Ask Jeeves

First Albany reiterated its buy rating on Ask Jeeves (ASKJ).

Analyst Youssef Squali says the Internet search company's raised earnings guidance, and the news that it would acquire Interactive Search Holdings, are significant announcements. He views the acquisition positively due to its highly accretive financial impact, and thinks it will increase Ask Jeeves' market share.

On a stand-alone basis, Ask Jeeves raised the first-quarter earnings per share estimate to 18 cents, and upped the revenue estimate to $37 million. The company also raised the 2004 earnings per share estimate to 70 cents, and upped the revenue estimate to $153.6 million. Ask Jeeves forecast 90 cents 2004 earnings per share on $230 million in revenue on a combined preliminary basis, citing higher organic growth and the acquisition for the raised guidance.

Thus, Squali raised his $26 target to $30 on a stand-alone basis, and upped the targe to the mid-$30s on a combined preliminary basis.

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