• Tricon share price nears $50 following Morgan endorsement

NEW YORK -- Since J.P. Morgan raised its rating on Tricon Global Restaurants Inc. (YUM) to "long-term buy" from "market performer," on Sept. 18, the stock price has risen steadily from about $39 to almost $50 today.

Shares of the world's second largest restaurant company, which operates Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The company's combined restaurant total is more than 30,000 units.

Crediting stabilized fundamentals and Tricon's confidence it will reach earnings estimates through 2002, restaurant analyst John Ivankoe said that shares in the company could act as a safe haven for investors.

"We are confident that our earnings estimates will at least be attained as stabilizing sales results aided further by lower interest rates and the falling U.S. dollar," Ivankoe wrote.

J.P. Morgan has estimated operating earnings per share of $3.06 for fiscal 2001 and $3.38 for fiscal 2002.

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