Credit Suisse, which has a neutral rating on the stock, lowered its fiscal 2012 estimate to a profit of $3.10 a share from $3.40 a share and cut its price target to $51 from $56 on Thursday. The firm thinks both investors and the company should be wary.
"It is in their best interests to take a cautious approach, reassess its growth algorithm, and accelerate restructuring programs to generate cost savings," Credit Suisse said. "We are concerned that weak volume trends and negative operating leverage will spill over into 2012. While management said that volume improved in January, the monthly data tends to be choppy, and not necessarily indicative of a rebound."
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Another event to be aware of involves Micron Technology (MU - Get Report), which is holding an analysts conference on Friday. The get-together is sure to be somber, coming so soon after the tragic death of CEO Steve Appleton on Feb. 3. The Boise, Idaho-based chip maker and CEO Mark Durcan will provide an update on Micron's strategy and its view of current market conditions.Micron shares are down more than 25% in the past year, but the stock has been a hot property since the calendar turned, rising 30% to close Thursday at $8.16. Credit Suisse previewed the meeting on Thursday, saying it expects to hear about pricing for both NAND flash and DRAM memory products as well as the prospects for Micron's solid-state-drive business. The firm has an outperform rating and a $12 price target on the stock and thinks the shares are still attractive from a valuation standpoint despite the recent run-up. "MU is trading at just 0.98x book value - noting that the stock has traded at 1.3x P/B or higher in each of the last 10 calendar years implies at least 35% upside and a share price of $11," Credit Suisse wrote. "Further, we see the potential for a revaluation which would drive shares into the mid-teens as the company starts to generate cash and uses excess cash to buyback stock/debt." The economic calendar on Friday features trade balance data for December at 8:30 a.m. ET, the initial University of Michigan consumer sentiment gauge for February at 9:55 a.m. ET, and the Treasury Department's budget report for January at 2 p.m. ET. The consensus view is for consumer sentiment to tick lower to 74 from 75 in January, but Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, is more optimistic, forecasting the headline number at 77, because of the improving employment picture. "After five straight gains, which have reversed most of the decline triggered last year by the spike in gasoline prices, the Japanese earthquake and the debt ceiling fiasco, we see scope for a modest correction in the expectations component," he wrote. "But the current conditions component tends to be driven mostly by shifts in jobless claims ... and the decline in layoffs in recent months suggests the index has some way further to rise." And finally, Nuance Communications (NUAN - Get Report) and LinkedIn (LNKD - Get Report) will be in the spotlight tomorrow after their respective quarterly reports. Shares of Nuance were falling in the after-hours session after the voice technology company missed on both the top and bottom lines in its latest quarter, partly because of longer negotiation cycles with mobile companies. Business social networker LinkedIn, on the other hand, got a boost after its quarterly earnings of 12 cents a share topped the consensus view of 7 cents a share by more than 70%. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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