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Merrill Raises Smithfield Foods Estimates

Merrill Lynch raises Smithfield Foods (SFD) estimates and target and reiterates buy rating.

Analyst Leonard Teitelbaum says his new forecast is far ahead of his previous 50 cents estimate. It reflects very strong conditions in the Hog Processing Group. He believes Smithfield is benefiting from current market conditions of lower feed costs and high pork prices, which have been driven by high beef prices. He thinks the export business continues to be robust.

Teitelbaum raises his 50 cents third-quarter earnings per share estimate to 87 cents and his $2.05 fiscal 2005 (ending April) to $2.53 on the belief hog prices will remain high over the coming six months.

He also raises his $2.34 fiscal 2006 earnings per share estimate to $2.74 and his $30 target to $39, which is based on Smithfield's earnings per share outperformance.

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