) shares rose after the company reported first-quarter EPS (GAAP) of 14 cents, vs. 34 cents a year ago, as one-time items offset a 2.9% sales rise. It's EPS excluding items was 98 cents. The company raised its earnings projection for the second-quarter and 2003. Lehman Brothers increased its estimates.
Analyst Alan Rifkin says first-quarter EPS (excluding items) beat his 74-cent estimate. He notes the company upped his second-quarter EPS guidance to $1.01 to $1.05 from continuing operations from 92 cents to 97 cents, and 2003 to $3.85 to $3.95 from $3.55.
Based on first-quarter results and his continued positive outlook, Rifkin raised his $3.52 2003 EPS from continuing operations estimate to $3.95, and his $4.50 forecast for 2004 to $5.00. He also raised his $60 12-month price target to $79, representing 20 times his revised 2003 EPS estimate.
Rifkin notes the company continues to drive impressive cash flow trends with well-managed expendidures and well-managed inventories. He maintains an overweight rating.