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In a report titled Ford: The Worst Appears Over, Officially Lowering Estimates,

PaineWebber

cut its third-quarter and fourth-quarter estimates on

Ford

(F)

by a penny each. The firm, which maintained its buy ratings and $46 price target on the stock, believes that although Ford still has liability issues, "it appears that the tread separation issue is becoming more attributable to Firestone."

Upgrades

National Semiconductor

(NSM)

: fiscal 2001 estimates UP to $3.10 a share from $2.90; fiscal 2002 UP to $3.20 a share from $3.05 at

Goldman Sachs

.

Downgrades

Burlington Resources

(BR)

: DOWN to buy from strong buy at

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TheStreet Recommends

Credit Suisse First Boston

.

Hovnanian

(HOV)

: fiscal 2000 DOWN to $1.50 a share from $1.55; fiscal 2001 UP to $1.80 from $1.65 at

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

.

Mpower

(MPWR)

: DOWN to market outperformer at Goldman Sachs; fiscal 2000 estimates DOWN to a $5.45 loss from $5.07 loss.

Initiations

Checkpoint Software Technologies

(CHKP)

: NEW intermediate accumulate, long-term buy rating; price target of $175.

Wal-Mart

(WMT)

: NEW buy at

Banc of America

.

Group Moves

DLJ rolled out coverage of several managed care companies:

  • Sierra Health Servicesundefined: underperform.
  • Wellpoint Health Networks (WLP) : buy.
  • Cigna (CI) : buy.
  • Coventry Healthcareundefined: buy.
  • Foundation Healthcare (FHS) : buy.
  • Humana (HUM) : market perform.
  • MidAtlantic Med Serviceundefined: market perform.
  • Pacificare Healthundefined: underperform.
  • Oxford Health Planundefined: buy.
  • United Health Group (UNH) : market perform.
  • RightChoice (RIT) : market perform.
  • Trigon Healthcare (TGH) : market perform.

Lehman Brothers

raised its ratings and price targets on several medical and drug suppliers:

  • Bergen Brunswig (BBC) : price target UP to 13 from 12; UP to outperform from neutral.
  • Harry Schein (HSIC) : UP to outperform from neutral; price target UP to 25 from 21.