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Morgan Stanley upgraded Metlife (MET
) to overweight from equal-weight.
Analyst Nigel Dally says his upgrade is based on valuation. He says the stock price has declined 18% since early May, and is now at a highly attractive level. Dally notes strong expense management, aggressive stock buybacks, and further impressive results from its institutional division point toward robust earnings per share growth. He says weak equity markets have hurt the company's annunity operations, but should be offset by higher institutional spreads. Dally also notes large negative surprises from Metlife's investment portfolio are unlikely, as property-casualty results look on track. He keeps his $2.52 2002 EPS estimate and $2.89 2003 estimate.