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Merrill Cuts Gateway's Fourth-Quarter Sales Estimate

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Merrill Lynch

lowered its fourth-quarter sales outlook for



and said the PC giant's preholiday retail sales in November were "not quite as strong as originally hoped for."

In a report released ahead of Gateway's fourth-quarter update, Merrill Lynch said it was reducing its fourth-quarter sales estimate to $3.04 billion from $3.135 billion. The firm expects Gateway to meet the 24% consensus growth rate forecast for the quarter, but ruled out "any reasonable change of upside to the numbers."

Merrill Lynch maintained its earnings expectation of 63 cents a share for the fourth quarter, a penny above the 19-analyst consensus estimate provided by

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First Call/Thomson Financial

, and up from 42 cents a share in the same period last year.

The firm also maintained its intermediate-term buy rating on Gateway, with a price target of $45, down from $68.

Shares of Gateway recently tumbled 5.8%, or $1.80, to $29.20 in

New York Stock Exchange

composite trading, falling below the 52-week low of $30.75.

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