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US: Lehman Brothers downgrades on major bottlers

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The investment bank Lehman Brothers has cut its rating on the shares of four of the world's largest soft drinks bottling companies, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG), PepsiAmericas, and the own-label specialist, Cott Corp.

The bank reduced its rating on CCE and PBG from "Overweight" to "Equal Weight", while it also downgraded PepsiAmericas Inc. and Cott Corp. to "Underweight".

Lehman Bros' analyst, Michael J. Branca, said the bottlers were caught between rising raw material costs on one side, and sluggish demand on the other.

The bank's ratings of Overweight, Equal Weight and Underweight equate more or less to the buy, hold and sell ratings of other brokers.

The downgrade had a negative impact on the share price of all four soft drinks groups. Shares in PBG were 3% lower following the downgrade, while PepsiAmericas shares fell by 3.5%. CCE shares fell by 2% and Cott shares by 3.8%.


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