AP News

Ahead of the Bell: PPG Industries

NEW YORK (AP) — A Jefferies analyst on Monday raised his rating for PPG Industries Inc. to "Buy" from "Hold," citing the coatings maker's focus on boosting value for its shareholders and its improving finances.

Laurence Alexander also raised his price target by $18 to $135, but lowered his earnings estimates for the company's next three fiscal years to account for its upcoming sale of its chlor-alkali business.

"PPG's activist approach to enhancing shareholder value, coupled with a robust balance sheet, suggest the risk versus reward is improving," Alexander wrote in a note to investors.

Alexander cut his 2012 profit prediction by 25 cents per share to $8.05. He also lowered his 2013 prediction by $2.30 to $6.75 and 2014 estimate by $1.85 to $7.85. Analysts, on average, expect earnings of $7.92, $7.96 and $8.47 per share for the years 2012 through 2014, according to FactSet.

Alexander said his new predictions also take into account concerns about customer demand in the second half of the year, slightly lower volume growth expectations for 2013 to 2014 and expectations of favorable raw material prices in the second half of this year.

PPG shares finished at $113.14 per share last week. They are near their 52-week high of $114.62 set on July 20.

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