) to overweight from equal-weight.
Analyst Patrick McKeever says he's upgrading and raising his estimates on better-than-expected first-quarter earnings per share, which was two cents above the consensus estimate, and up 16% year over year. He says channel checks suggest second-quarter comp trends are significantly stronger than the reaffirmed guidance of flat; he thinks merchandising and improved sentiment are factors.
He says greater commitment to larger stores should lessen Dollar Tree's economic sensitivity relative to peers. Other positives include high, sustainable square footage growth, and strong finances. McKeever raised the $1.51 fiscal 2004 (Jan.) earnings per share estimate to $1.54, and raised the $1.76 fiscal 2005 estimate to $1.79.