Merrill Downgrades Newell Rubbermaid to 'Sell'

Analyst Carol Warner Wilke says the consumer-products maker saw pricing pressure and retailer inventory reductions in the second quarter

Merrill downgraded Newell Rubbermaid (NWL ) to sell from buy.

Consumer-products maker Newell cut its guidance. Analyst Carol Warner Wilke says the maker of Rubbermaid storage products cited trouble at its picture-frames business, pricing pressure on opening price-point items, and retailer inventory reductions. She's concerned Newell was so blindsided by these issues after recently reiterating the 2003 outlook.

Wilke questioned Newell's ability to ever post top-line growth near its long-term goal of 5%. Given the extremely low visibility, she's concerned about the possibility of further estimate reductions, and feels Newell's s new targets continue to be a bit aggressive.

Wilke cut the $1.81 2003 earnings per share estimate to $1.60, and cut the $2.03 2004 estimate to $1.76.

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