Lehman Cuts Brinker Intl to Neutral from Buy

Poor weather, falling consumer confidence may hamper earnings growth at casual-dining operations business

Shares of Brinker International Inc. (EAT ) were down after Lehman Brothers downgraded its investment rating on the casual-dining operations business to neutral from buy.

Analyst Mitchell Speiser said looking ahead, price to earnings reflects healthy fundamentals and the company's solid positioning, yet does not discount likelihood of comps deceleration and bias toward more conservative earnings per share expectations going forward.

He maintains his forecast, but tough comps, poor weather and falling consumer confidence will likely decelerate EPS growth, impede upside EPS revisions, surprises, limiting interest in shares at current valuation.

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