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ANALYST: BB&B THE STOCK TO BUY.

NEW YORK -- After pulling off stellar third-quarter results a few weeks ago, Bed Bath & Beyond was tagged as a "top investment recommendation" by Lehman Bros. retail analyst Alan Rifkin.

Rifkin reiterated a "2 Buy" rating on the stock after the specialty home goods retailer posted a 28.5 percent increase in earnings per share in its most recent quarter. The analyst said in his report last week that the retailer's accelerated store-opening plans "will aid in the building of groundwork for a strong performance into 2002 as the economy recovers."

Subsequently, Rifkin said the retailer is one of his favorite investment ideas.

The analyst noted that Bed Bath & Beyond's same-store sales for the third quarter were higher than his estimate as well as the company's own forecast. The strength of comps pushed sales up for the quarter more than 26 percent.

The retailer also opened 46 stores, beating the original plan for 42 units. Rifkin expects this accelerated pace to continue.

"Management is on track to open six stores in the fourth quarter, four of which have already been opened, increasing the number of store openings in [fiscal] 2001 to 85 versus an original plan of 80," Rifkin said, adding that for 2002, the retailer is planning 88 openings.

Regarding 2002 earnings, management at the retailer said it was comfortable with a full-year earnings per share estimate of 88 cents.

For the most recent quarter, the company posted a gross profit of 40.96 compared to 40.88 in the prior year while the operating income rose to 11.03 percent from 10.73 percent.

Rifkin has the retailer's shares pegged with a target price of 36. Shares ended the year up 11.53 percent, closing at 33.90 on Dec. 31 compared to a close of 2 2.38 on the first day of trading in 2001. The 52-week high is 35.70, the low 18.70.
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Title Annotation:Bed Bath and Beyond again receives 2 buy rating
Comment:ANALYST: BB&B THE STOCK TO BUY.(Bed Bath and Beyond again receives 2 buy rating)
Author:Zaczkiewicz, Arthur
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 14, 2002
Words:318
Previous Article:NEWS BREIFS.
Next Article:NEWS BRIEF.
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