) to sector outperform, and downgraded Kirkland's (KIRK
) to sector perform.
Analyst Peter Benedict says he replaced Kirkland's with Linens 'n Things in the sector outperform group. He cites Linens 'n Things' more meaningful upside potential in the next 12 months (20%), vs. Kirland's (less than 10%).
He's become increasingly comfortable with Linens'n Things' turnaround steps in recent months, and thinks that evidence of improved sales per square foot could start to emerge as early as the fourth quarter of 2003, or into the first half of 2004. Benedict maintains his $1.67 2003 earnings per share, and $1.99 2004 earnings per share estimates for Linens'n Things. He also set a $32 target for Linens'n Things .
For Kirland, Benedict cut the $1.14 fiscal 2004 (Jan.) earnings per share to $1.04, and trimmed the $1.33 fiscal 2005 earnings per share to $1.20, saying the home-decor company's downgrade comes as it nears the $18 target.