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Keybanc Upgrades Zale

Keybanc upgrades Zale (ZLC) to hold from underweight.

Analyst Jeffrey Stein says inventory issues following a disappointing Christmas selling season do not appear to be as material as he had feared.

He says Valentine's Day sales have rebounded and were positive at its sales division. He now believes margin pressure over the balance of the year may not be as severe as he had anticipated.

Stein notes, it appears that corrective measures in marketing have improved sales momentum at Zales. He raises his 20 cents third-quarter earnings per share estimate to 25 cents and $2.00 fiscal 2005 (ending January) to $2.10. He believes shares will settle at $27 to $29 after enthusiasm subsides.

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