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Merrill Ups VeriSign to Buy

Merrill Lynch upgraded VeriSign (VRSN) to buy from neutral.

Analyst Edward Maguire says his prior concerns with the stock centered on a lack of growth from the company's Telco Services. He notes with evidence that the recent Jamba! acquisition is tracking ahead of plan, and he has increased confidence in VeriSign's ability to outperform. He notes the Jamba acquisition provides VeriSign with presence in the rapidly growing mobile content-delivery market. Also, for the second time in two months, VeriSign raised its 2004 expectations for Jamba.

Maguire upped the $284.9 million third-quarter revenue estimate to $291.1 million, and upped the 16 cents earnings per share estimate to 17 cents. He raised the 62 cents 2004 earnings per share estimate to 64 cents, and upped the 73 cents 2005 estimate to 79 cents. He set a $24 target.

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