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Prudential Cuts Opinion on Fifth Third Bancorp

Prudential cut its investment recommendation on Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) to underweight from neutral.

Analyst Michael Mayo said the company had more bad news in a string of disappointments over the past couple of years. Specifically, its margin is expected to decline by the double-digits, with spread revenues targeted to decline. The company noted one issue is that the firm's deposit campaign has not panned out as expected. Another issue is that its yield curve has been flatter for longer than the company expected. While a mitigating factor is fee areas, Fifth Third Bancorp's operating leverage should be negative given that its expenses should grow in the mid-to-high single digits. Mayo cut his $3.00 2005 earnings per share estimate to $2.90, his $3.30 2006 estimate to $3.10, and his price target to $36.

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