Markets & Finance

Merrill Raises Smithfield Foods Estimates

Merrill Lynch raised its estimates on Smithfield Foods (SFD).

Analyst Leonard Teitelbaum says the 29 cents earnings per share from continuing operations estimate excluded 4 cents of discontinued operations related to the sale of Schneider Corp., which Smithfield hopes to close before the end of fiscal 2004 (Apr.). He notes Smithfield completed the acquisition of Farmland Foods' pork processing and hog production assets, and these operations will be reflected in the company's third-quarter results.

He says the disposition of Schneider and the acquisition of Farmland assets will be immediately accretive transactions. Teitelbaum raised the 24 cents second-quarter earnings per share estimate to 29 cents, upped the $1.40 fiscal 2004 estimate to $1.45, and is keeping the $2.09 fiscal 2005 estimate. Teitelbaum maintains his buy rating, and has a $25 target.

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