NEW YORK -- US Bancorp Piper Jaffray analyst Alan Hickok has downgraded California Pizza Kitchen, Inc.'s (CPKI) stock from "outperform" to "market perform," and reduced its target price from $31 to $24.

According to NewRatings.com, Hickok pointed to CPK's below-expectations first quarter sales and earnings per share (EPS) as key reasons for the downgrade.

The Los Angeles-based company reported first quarter struggles with reduced customer counts due to severe February weather, high labor costs and new menu items that didn't sell as well as hoped. The company also voiced concerns it will not meet earnings expectations for the full year 2003.

Hickok also believes CPK's near-term earnings will fall short of projections and reduced his EPS estimates for 2003 and 2004 from $1.03 to 95 cents and from $1.25 to $1.12, respectively.

After opening trading on April 23 at $21.01, CPK shares dropped nearly 17 percent to close at $19.80 (See Q1 CPK comp-store sales rise 2.7%, but stock falls amid labor and sales concerns.) As recently as October, CPK shares traded at more than $28.

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