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Jefferies upgrades State Street to 'buy' from 'hold'

Jefferies analysts Ken Usdin, Vijeth Mudalegundi and Amanda Larsen upgraded State Street Corp. to "buy" from "hold" and increased the price target to $92.00 from $68.00.

The analysts also increased their EPS estimates to $5.93 from $5.85 for 2019, to $6.80 from $6.20 for 2020 and to $7.70 from $7.10 for 2021.

The analysts wrote that a sharp increase in stock market levels in the fourth quarter of 2019 was a positive for State Street's fee revenue, given the high proportional mix within the company's assets under administration and assets under management. Recent new business wins also mean that the "yet-to-convert" asset servicing pipeline stands at $1.2 trillion, the highest in years, which "should help asset servicing fees to overcome the ongoing burdens from client repricing," they added.

Usdin, Mudalegundi and Larsen also said State Street's "very strong" Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review stress test result in 2019 provided meaningful balance sheet capacity that is enabling several company-specific deposit-gathering initiatives, and which also leaves room "to house incremental liquidity that is thrown off of the Fed's recent balance sheet expansion."

The analysts added that the company's cost-control program should help in maintaining positive operating leverage in 2020, and said potential regulatory reform could benefit State Street by enabling more stock repurchases and preferred stock retirement.