HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) ¿ Shares of Exterran Holdings Inc. fell Thursday as a Credit Suisse analyst lowered his rating on the oil and gas industry services company. Analyst Brad Handler downgraded the Houston company to "Neutral" from "Outperform." Exterran shares have risen 73 percent since early July. Exterran "has gained traction with some investors as having interesting exposure to the recovery of natural gas-driven activity in the U.S.," he said in a client note. Natural gas prices have mostly moved down this summer, with supplies near capacity. But prices have spiked since the beginning of the month as futures contracts were snapped up, most likely because buyers didn't see prices for natural gas getting much cheaper. Handler said he believes natural gas production will likely fall less than is generally expected and Exterran should generate strong cash flow. He cut his 2010 earnings estimate to 25 cents per share from 35 cents per share and he left his 2009 estimate unchanged at $1.09 per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect, on average, earnings of 99 cents per share for 2010 and $1.18 per share this year. Shares fell 95 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $23.61 in midday trading. Exterran, which was created by combining the Hanover Compressor Co. and Universal Compression Holdings, provides natural gas compression and other services for oil and gas production ventures. Handler raised his price target to $27 from $22, a premium of about 10 percent over Wednesday's closing price.
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