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JP Morgan Cuts Estee Lauder Rating

JP Morgan cut its investment recommendation on Estee Lauder (EL) to neutral from overweight.

Analyst John Faucher said Estee Lauder lowered its first half guidance while reiterating $1.95 to $2.00 fiscal year 2007 (ending June) earnings per share guidance range. He pointed out that the company's first half guidance implies second half earnings per share of $1.08, which would represent 27% growth vs. last year, and more than 30% earnings per share growth from the first half. The analyst says that despite a number of "product launches, programs" set for the back half of the year, he's skeptical that this level of growth is realistic. He cut his $1.98 fiscal year 2007 (ending June) earnings per share estimate to $1.89. The analyst views the valuation as appropriate given the company's long-term potential, but he also thinks the upside is limited given the challenging environment in both the US and Europe.

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