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Wedbush Morgan Cuts Pier 1 Imports to Sell from Hold

Wedbush Morgan downgraded Pier 1 Imports (PIR) to sell from hold, after the company Thursday posted an 8 cents earnings per share loss in the third quarter.

Analyst Joan Storms sees increasing risk amid a merchandising overhaul with an emphasis on more modern design, an unproven marketing strategy, and a deteriorating balance sheet. As the company marks its third year of negative comparables, she thinks investors should ask tough questions of the senior management and board. She thinks winners in the sector need to create a differentiated concept and compelling shopping experience that targets a specific niche, which Pier 1 is lacking. She widens her 22 cents fiscal year 2006 (ending February) loss estimate to a 27 cents loss, and cuts her 25 cents fiscal year 2007 EPS to 5 cents EPS.

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