Merrill Cuts Metris to Neutral

Analyst David Hochstim says while the direct marketer remains profitable, he's lost confidence

Merrill Lynch downgraded Metris (MXT ) to neutral from buy.

Analyst David Hochstim says he's cutting the $2.83 2002 earnings per share estimate to $1.85. He says while the company remains profitable, he's lost confidence. Hochtstim notes that Metris has become significantly more pessimistic about its ability to generate account and loan growth over the past few weeks.

He says it is possible that management's view is too pessimistic given the improving economic picture, but without account, loan, or revenue growth, Hochstim says there's little prospect of the strong EPS growth that's he used to expecting from the company

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