) to sector perform from sector underperform. On nOv. 1, the company posted $0.64 third-quarter operating EPS and reaffirmed its $2.75-$2.86 2002 guidance.
Analyst Mario Mendonca tells Standard & Poor's MarketScope he upgraded the shares on valuation; as of the Nov. 1 market close, Hancock traded at 9.8 times his new 2003 EPS estimate. He believes the valuation no longer reflects his 2003 estimate of 14%-plus return on equity. Mendonca also based his upgrade on his belief that credit losses, which have been a trouble spot, will diminish going forward. The analyst says third quarter operating EPS were in line with Hancock's preannouncement. He is keeping his $2.80 2002 EPS estimate, but cut his $3.12 forecast for 2003 to $3.06 to reflect additional expenses tied to pensions and options. He has a $36 price target.