First Data gains on analyst's kind words

Shares of First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC) picked up 2 3/8, or 5 percent, to 47 13/16 Monday after Credit Suisse First Boston upgraded its stock from a "buy" to a "strong buy" recommendation and raised its fiscal 2000 sales and earnings estimates.

CSFB analyst Mark Wolfenberger boosted its fiscal 2000 sales estimate to $6.18 billion from $5.9 billion and bumped its earnings estimate from $1.85 a share to $1.98 a share.

Wolfenberger also set a new 12-month price target of $60 a share.

In a research note, Wolfenberger said a recent meeting with company management "reinforced our analysis that business (is) stabilized and revenue growth, true earnings power and visibility restored."

Earlier this month, First Data shares charged up to a 52-week high of 49 9/16 after slipping to a low of 19 11/16 in August.

Last quarter, it earned $141 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $1.26 billion.

First Call consensus pegs it for a profit of 40 cents a share in its second quarter and $1.73 a share in the fiscal year.

Eleven of the 16 analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

First Data provides high-volume information processing and related services, payment instruments, card issuer services, and merchant processing services for a variety of industries.