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Upgrade sparks Sprint shares

Sprint shares moved up $1.94, or 8 percent, to $26.94 Wednesday after CIBC World Markets upgraded the long-distance phone company to a "buy" rating from a "hold."

Sprint (NYSE: FON) shares have been roughed up in the past two weeks after it warned that its third-quarter sales and earnings will fall short of expectations.

After moving up to a 52-week high of $75.94 in November, the stock plunged to a low of $24.31 earlier this month.

On Sept. 12, Sprint said it would post earnings between 45 cents to 47 cents a share in the third quarter.

First Call Corp. consensus was expecting a profit of 49 cents a share in the quarter.

Company officials said sales are expected to grow about 4 percent in the quarter, mostly from data services and bundled service offerings. However, growth in those areas is being offset by pricing pressure in voice services.

Last quarter, Sprint posted a profit of $365 million, or 42 cents a share, on sales of $4.4 billion.

Thirteen of the 18 analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

Analysts are now expecting it post a profit of 46 cents a share in the third quarter and $1.92 a share in the fiscal year.