Salomon Cools On Blockbuster


Salomon Smith Barney Inc. analyst Margaret Blaydes lowered her rating on Blockbuster Inc. to "neutral" from "outperform" last week, claiming that although the video-rental giant's stock has performed well, most of its upside has already been factored into its current price. Blockbuster stock is up 219 percent year-to-date. That's largely due to the diminished perception of video-on-demand's threat, as well as video rental's position as a value product in a weak economy, Blaydes wrote. Although the stock has exceeded her 12-month target price of $26 — it closed at $27.25 on Dec. 5 — that price appears to factor in a cash-flow estimate that's 10 percent above Blaydes's 2002 forecast, already the highest on the Street. Although she said Blockbuster has a solid operational strategy, "we think investors could wait for a more attractive entry point," Blaydes wrote.