UPDATE 1-Citi upgrades Lehman; says bank has ample liquidity
(Adds analyst's comments, background and share movement)
March 28 (Reuters) - Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc LEH.N has ample liquidity to run its business and will generate positive earnings and grow book value per share this year, said Citigroup analyst Prashant Bhatia, who upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold" on valuation.
"With $34 billion in liquidity at the parent company, the ability to get access to over $200 billion in liquidity from the Fed's primary dealer credit facility, and its ability to tap the term auction facility, access to liquidity is a non-issue," Bhatia wrote in a note to clients.
He has a price target of $65 on the stock, which was up nearly 7 percent Friday to $41.40 in trading before the bell. Shares of the fourth largest U.S. investment bank closed at $38.71 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.
The analyst, who views current valuation of the stock as an extremely attractive entry point for the stock, said he sees 70 percent upside in Lehman shares.
"The recent profitable quarter in a tough environment, the coordinated actions taken by the Fed and Treasury to provide meaningful liquidity, and Lehman's management team's excellent track record of creating value and managing risk all serve as excellent downside protection," Bhatia said.
On March 18, Lehman posted better-than-expected first-quarter results, helped by strong revenue in merger advisory and asset management. The bank had also said it has more than enough capital to do business in the current environment.
(Reporting by Tenzin Pema in Bangalore; Editing by Bernard Orr)
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