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Morgan Stanley Outpaces Financials: Upgrade Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report) was the winner among stocks of large U.S. banks on Wednesday as shares rose nearly 1% to close at $28.25.

The New York-based investment bank was a positive outlier on a mostly weak day for financial names as UBS analyst Brennan Hawken Tuesday upgraded Morgan Stanley to `buy' from `neutral,' while raising his 12-month price target to $33 from $28.00.

"We have been increasingly positive on MS given its progress transitioning to a more wealth management driven business model, and our initial Financial Advisors Survey reinforced an improving outlook for continued expansion of wealth management profit margins and earnings power," Hawken wrote in a note to clients.

The analyst raised his 2013 earnings estimate slightly to $1.80 a share from $1.77, and raised his 2013 EPS estimate to $2.80 from $2.60, "driven by a lower compensation ratio and higher net interest income in the Global Wealth Management segment."

Long-term interest rates have been rising in anticipation of a decline in Federal Reserve purchases of long-term bonds which have been running at a rate of $85 billion a month since last September. The market yield on 10-year treasury bonds has increased to 2.92% from 1.70% at the end of April.

Hawken added that his firm expects "average yields will begin to increase modestly in 2014, roughly in line with our net interest margin outlook for the universal banks."

Morgan Stanley during the second quarter completed its purchase of Citigroup's (C) remaining 35% stake in the companies' retail brokerage joint venture, for $4.7 billion. A more even split in revenue between wealth management and asset management, "should translate into a higher multiple" for Morgan Stanley's stock, according to Hawken.

Morgan Stanley's shares trade for 10.9 times the consensus 2014 EPS estimate of $2.59 among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2015 EPS estimate is $2.95.

"Separately, we are raising our 2014 estimate for Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) to $1.47 from $1.45, driven by improved expectations for their wealth management business." Hawken wrote.

The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) pulled back slightly to close at 63.97 with all but eight of the 24 index components ending with declines.

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