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Sept 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street analysts cut their ratings and widened their 2008 loss estimates for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc LEH.N, indicating that the troubled investment bank’s efforts to shed risky assets may not be enough to curb rising losses.
Lehman shares, which have plunged over 40 percent in the last two days, were down 23 percent at $5.56 before the bell.
Goldman Sachs downgraded Lehman to “neutral” from “buy” and removed it from Americas buy list on Thursday, a day after Lehman posted a third-quarter loss of $4 billion.
“Management did not successfully put to rest the issues that had been pressuring the stock,” William Tanona of Goldman Sachs wrote.
On Wednesday, Lehman posted a larger-than-expected quarterly loss of $5.92 a share, slashed its annual dividend by more than 90 percent and announced plans to sell a stake in its fund business and reduce its exposure to risky assets.
Despite seeing Lehman’s initiatives as a “step in the right direction,” Oppenheimer’s Meredith Whitney continues to expect a tough 2008 for the investment bank.
Lehman faces challenges to earnings given difficult capital markets for the next several quarters and potential writedowns to its remaining risk exposures, Whitney wrote in her note dated Sept. 10.
She expects Lehman to breakeven for the fourth quarter, down from her prior view of a profit of 36 cents a share. For 2008, she widened her loss view to $10.24 a share from $6.67.
The Wall Street company, founded in 1850 by three German immigrants who traded cotton, has been hit by rising writedowns and is fighting for survival.
Analyst Michael Hecht of Bank of America Securities said “while Lehman has made solid progress in reducing risk exposures, sizable exposures remain.”
The analyst widened his 2008 loss per share view on Lehman by 36 percent to $13.55 a share, and said the fourth-largest Wall Street investment bank might need to raise about $6 billion in capital.
Citigroup also downgraded Lehman to “hold” from “buy.” (Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)