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Upgrades boost PeopleSoft shares to 52-week high

PeopleSoft (Nasdaq: PSFT) shares moved up $2.41, or 5 percent, to a 52-week high of $44.94 Tuesday after two more analysts jumped on the bandwagon following its strong third-quarter earnings report.

Last week, the business management software developer topped analysts' estimates by a penny a share when it posted a profit of $23.4 million, or 8 cents a share, on sales of $443.1 million.

The $443.1 million in sales marked a 28 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned only $500,000 on sales of $346.1 million.

On Tuesday, CS First Boston analyst Brent Thill upgraded the stock from a "hold" recommendation to a "buy" and set a near-term price target of $55 a share.

"Incremental partner commitments, a strengthening product line, and positive customer feedback and references should drive steady growth in the quarters to come," Thill wrote in a research note.

Lehman Brothers also upgraded the stock from an "outperform" rating to a "buy."

Investors were also encouraged by the company's plan to repurchase up to $100 million in common stock in the next year.

"With over $1 billion in cash and investments today, we believe a repurchase plan is in the best interests of all shareholders," CEO Craig Conway in a prepared release last week.

PeopleSoft shares fell to a 52-week low of $12 a share in May.

First Call Corp. consensus expects it to earn 9 cents a share in its fourth quarter and 57 cents a share in fiscal 2001.

Ten of the 19 analysts tracking the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."