NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of SEI Investments Co. advanced Tuesday after an analyst upgraded the investment manager and processor, citing improving sales and recent strength in the equity market.

In a note to investors, Oppenheimer analyst Glenn Greene raised his rating on the firm to "Outperform," from "Perform," with a price target of $22. That implies potential upside of 28.2 percent over the stock's closing price Monday of $17.16.

SEI Investments stock gained 52 cents, or 3 percent, to $17.68 in late morning trading.

Greene also raised his 2009 profit estimate by 7 cents to 93 cents per share and upped his 2010 estimate by 13 cents to $1.09 per share.

The firm's Global Wealth Platform recently signed a new client, Greene wrote, noting the segment's shift to focus on independent wealth advisers.

Citing the company's potentially improving sales momentum, Greene wrote the firm's recent results "do reflect the resiliency of SEI's business."

In April, the company reported its first-quarter profit fell 30 percent to $34.2 million, or 18 cents per share, from $48.9 million, or 25 cents per share a year earlier. Revenue dropped 26 percent to $248.6 million.

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