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7/10/01 8:35 am. HOME DEPOT (HD 45.99) LEHMAN UPGRADES TO STRONG BUY FROM BUY. Analyst Alan Rifkin tells salesforce after being somewhat cautious for past 1-1/2 years, upgrades HD. Has increased confidence in $1.23 FY 02 (Jan), $1.50 FY 02 EPS estimates. Says comps poised to accelerate in 2H, as aggressive Fed provides backdrop. Notes easier sales, lumber comps also contribute; longer term, thinks appliances can contribute 1%-2% to comps. Says HD's new initiative poised for chainwide rollout, believes it will drive average ticket, improve service, boost comps. Says mgmt team strong despite recent retirements. Has $55 target.

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