Merrill Lynch raised its 2001 EPS estimate and 12 month price target on shares of contract drilling firm UTI Energy (UTI ). Analyst Kurt Hallead told S&P MarketScope he raised his EPS estimate and price target to reflect UTI's recent acquisition of six U.S.-based drilling rigs. He says a deal should be closed by the end of the month. Hallead notes that four of these rigs are already operating and the remaining two will be ready by the 2001 second quarter.
The analyst raised his $1.00 2001 earnings per share estimate to $1.10. He also initiated a $1.85 2002 EPS estimate. Hallead hiked his $30 12-month price target to $46.25, based on a multiple of 25 to his 2002 EPS estimate. He rates the shares near term and long term buy.