R.W. Baird raised its investment opinion on Ionics (ION ) to outperform from neutral.
Analyst Richard Eastman says he tweaked his 2004 earnings per share estimate from 65 cents to 68 cents to account for various recent events, including: the purchase of Ecolochem, expansion of Trinidad, recent cost initiatives, and expectations for an Algeria desalination project. Eastman says Ionics remains a turnaround in progress, but believes intrinsic value of the franchise will become increasingly evident over the next four quarters. He has a $31 12-month price target, 9 times his 2005 EBITDA forecast of of $101.2 million, adjusted for net debt. The analyst feels this is a reasonable valuation, contingent on management's ability to deliver enhanced profitability.