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Sandler O'Neill Downgrades eSpeed

ESpeed (ESPD) sees second quarter earnings per share (GAAP basis) of 15 cents to 16 cents on $42 million to $43 million in revenue. Sandler O'Neill downgraded its rating on the shares to hold from buy.

Analyst Richard Repetto says he cut the rating as eSpeed's second quarter earnings per share preannouncement was lower than its previous guidance of 19 cents to 20 cents and his 21-cent estimate. He notes the company attributed the shortfall to the erosion of its market position due to competitive pricing pressure and lower-than-expected market volumes in Europe. Repetto believes eSpeed inaccurately assessed competition from its largest competitor, BrokerTec.

The analyst cut his 21-cent second quarter earnings per share estimate to 16 cents and sees $42.3 million in revenues for the period, in line with the company's new $42 million to $43 million guidance. He also cut his earnings per share estimates for 2004 from 83 cents to 67 cents, and for 2005 from $1.06 to 81 cents; he also lowered his $25 price target to $15.

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