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Citigroup Lowers Advance Auto Parts to Hold

Advance Auto Parts (AAP) reported 90 cents, vs. 70 cents, second-quarter earnings per share. Citigroup downgraded the stock to hold from buy.

Analyst Bill Sims says the stock's valuation is full in context of his expectation for decelerating comp-store sales. He believes comps will likely decelerate back to the mid-single-digit range by the fourth quarter, making SG&A leverage and EPS upside opportunities more challenging; he thinks conservatism is widely discounted by investors.

Sims admits the downgrade may be early as fundamentals are still robust and management's third-quarter guidance is likely conservative.

He raised his 2005 EPS estimate to $3.23 from $3.14, 2006's to $4.05 from $3.84, and 2007's to $4.90 from $4.70. He also raised his price target to $75 from $70.

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