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Raymond James Ups Assurant to Strong Buy

Raymond James upgraded Assurant (AIZ) to strong buy from outperform, citing confidence in the company management and outlook.

Analyst Steven Schwartz continues to believe the company is well positioned as a market leader in each of its business lines. He says the complex nature of these business lines, along with the company's longstanding partnerships and expertise, provide significant barriers to entry. He anticipates solid growth over time in each of the company's four business segments. He hikes his 2006 and 2007 earnings per share (EPS) estimates by 10 cents each, to $3.80 and $4.20, respectively. He also ups his $51 stock price target to $55.

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