Longs Drugs Stores (LDG ) reported $0.58 vs. $0.63 Q4 EPS from operations despite a 1.4% same-store sales rise and a 9% increase in total sales. CS First Boston upgraded the shares to hold from sell.
Analyst Jack Murphy says an entirely unexpected change in management and reduced risk of missing EPS estimates over the next two to four quarters led to the upgrade. However, because of bleak long-term prospects, he wouldn't be buying the shares. Murphy notes news of an independent board member, Harold Summerset, as interim CEO with plans to name permanent CEO from an outside company will be cheered by current shareholders and likely discourage short-sellers. He sees $1.30 fiscal 2003 (Jan.) EPS, rising to $1.40 in fiscal 2004. He has a $24 price target.