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Merrill Downgrades Dillard's to Sell

Merrill Lynch downgraded Dillard's (DDS) to sell from neutral.

Analyst Stacy Turnof says she recommends using strength to begin to become more selective in retail stocks. She believes macroeconomic issues could pressure Dillard's valuation in the second half, including rising interest rates that are widely anticipated after the election; and the removal of apparel quotas at many countries, notably China on Jan 1, 2005.

She also sees tough comps with the strong Christmas last year, and a decelerating corporate profit cycle, which historically has driven underperformance by retail stocks. Turnof notes retail stocks tend to underperform in the second half. She thinks Dillard's stock price is overvalued.

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