April 30, 2009 / 3:11 PM / 9 years ago

RESEARCH ALERT-JP Morgan upgrades Sunstone Hotel to "overweight"

April 30 (Reuters) - JP Morgan upgraded Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc (SHO.N) to “overweight” from “underweight,” saying there is an improved sentiment in the lodging sector and that the company’s share price is lagging that of its peers, sending its shares up as much as 22 percent.

Separately, the brokerage also upgraded LaSalle Hotel Properties (LHO.N) and Host Hotels & Resorts Inc (HST.N) to “neutral” from “underweight,” citing an improved balance sheet and realistic near-term earnings results.

Shares of LaSalle were up 7 percent at $12.96 while those of Host Hotels, formerly known as Host Marriott, rose more than 3 percent to $7.79 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Real-estate investment trusts (REIT) like Sunstone has the ability to improve their balance sheet and leverage position, JP Morgan wrote in a note to clients. The brokerage has a price target of $6 on the stock.

Shares of Sunstone Hotel were up 75 cents at $5.27 Thursday morning on the New York Stock Exchange. They touched a high of $5.84 earlier in the session. (Reporting by Renju Jose in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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