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Merrill Upgrades Winn-Dixie to 'Neutral'

Merrill Lynch upgraded Winn-Dixie Stores (WIN) to neutral from sell.

Analyst Mark Husson say he doesn't think the grocery chain brought Bennett Nussbaum on board as the new CEO to lead it through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He says Winn-Dixie has peripheral, unprofitable business parts that can be sold if need be, including facilities that produce or process Winn-Dixie's dairy, bakery, and coffee products.

Husson says there's a chance that Winn-Dixie's brand in its core markets could be restored, and that the company could position itself as the only surviving, convenient mid-market brand, especially if Albertson's exits Florida.

Husson thinks a sum-of-parts valuation supports the stock price of approximately $10 per share, though he expects Winn-Dixie to trade at a "decent discount" to break-up value.

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