) to strong buy from market perform.
Analyst Shelly Hale upgraded her rating on the shares on the surprise appointment of Dale Hilpert as CEO. She says Hilpert is a proven leader with a reputation as strong, fiscally responsible operator. Hale expects him to concentrate his efforts on the company's two key assets: Pottery Barn and the Williams-Sonoma brands. Under Hilpert's wing, she says the company could achieve fiscal 2002 (Jan). EPS of $1.40 or more in the wake of a weak calendar 2001. In short, she says Hilpert, in her opinion, is exactly what Williams Sonoma needs.