Wells Fargo Upgrades Labor Ready to 'Buy'

Analyst Charles Gunther cites better earnings prospects in 2004 for the provider of temporary manual labor

Wells Fargo upgraded Labor Ready (LRW ) to buy from hold.

Analyst Charles Gunther says he raised his 47 cents 2004 earnings per share estimate to 55 cents, and is keeping the 10% revenue growth and 30% gross margin estimates. He trimmed the 43 cents 2003 earnings per share estimate to 38 cents. Gunther says new information reveals 2004 selling, general, and administrative expenses should be meaningfully lower than he originally thought. He notes improved operating leverage adds about 8 cents per share to his prior estimate.

Gunther says Labor Ready's monthly sales comparisons improved nationwide throughout the third quarter, and results for the first half of October were up even more strongly. He notes comparisons for the lagging markets of north California, Washington, and Oregon, have progressively been less negative for the past several months. Gunther has a $14 target.

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