June 28, 2017 / 3:36 PM / in 3 months

BUZZ-Blackhawk lifts on BMO upgrade

** Blackhawk Networks up as much as 5 pct early Weds as BMO upgrades to outperform from market perform

** Broker increases PT 25 pct to $50 from $40, a 14 pct premium to current share price

** Analyst Paulo E. Ribeiro says the prepaid payment co “appears headed toward accelerated organic growth in 2H17 and into 2018”

** Adds HAWK’s focus on synergies between retail/commerce and incentives segments, and integration of its technological platform could expand margin by 100 bps per year

** Upgrade follows BMO meeting with HAWK management in which co said partnerships with Amazon.com and Whole Foods won’t be negatively affected by the merger; believes deal highlights importance of physical stores

** Of 16 analysts covering HAWK, 12 recommend “buy” or stronger, 4 say “hold”; median PT $47.50

** Thomson Reuters StarMine awards Ribeiro 3 out of 5 possible stars for past HAWK recommendations

** As of Tues close, HAWK shares up over 11 pct YTD, outperforming S&P 500’s 8 pct rise (Stephen Culp)

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