J.P. Morgan Chase upgraded Marsh & McLennan (MMC ) to overweight from neutral on recent price weakness.
Analyst Hugh Warns says since Oct. 1, Marsh & McLennan has declined by more than 17%, capped by an 8.1% decline on Oct. 4. At Friday's close, Marsh & McLennan fell to a level not seen since October of 1999. Warns thinks Marsh & McLennan is attractive due to its balanced business mix, strong insurance brokerage outlook, the smaller earnings impact of its Putnam unit, its above-average dividend yield, and strong cash-flow generation.
However, Warns cut his $2.42 2002 earnings per share (GAAP) estimate to $2.40, and cut the $2.80 2003 estimate to $2.64. His cuts reflect further weakening in the U.S. stock markets, and his decision to be more conservative about the company's earnings capabilities.