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Merriman Downgrades Audible

Merriman downgrades Audible Inc. (ADBL).

Analyst Richard Ketyko cuts to neutral from buy on lower near-term visibility and profitability. He says the company's strategic actions and investments have potential to significantly expand its addressable market well beyond audiobook listeners niche into mass market, but higher growth will come at higher-than-expected cost.

He says this causes a significant push-back in achieving targeted operating margins into 2006. He cuts his 36 cents 2005 earnings per share estimate to 7 cents and sees 45 cents 2006 earnings per share.

Based on the new estimates, Ketyko figures Audible should be valued at 25 times fiscal 2006 EBITDA, implying a $16 per share valuation.

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