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Ahead of the Bell: Tractor Supply downgraded

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst lowered his rating for Tractor Supply Co. on Monday, saying that while the farm equipment retailer is a good long-term growth story, its high stock price is a near-term risk.

Bradley Thomas of KeyBanc Capital Markets cut Tractor Supply to "Hold" from "Buy." The analyst said in a client note that he still considers the stock expensive — it closed at $87.91 per share on Friday — even though it has fallen 12 percent from its high of $100.75 on May 2.

Thomas says Tractor Supply remains a compelling long-term growth story, partly because of its strong management team and plans to increase its store base to 2,100 stores from 1,119 locations.

But the analyst says the Brentwood, Tenn., company's strong performance — topping Wall Street's earnings forecasts by at least 3 cents per share in the past seven quarters — has led investors to have high expectations.

"While we are optimistic that Tractor Supply can continue to beat estimates, we believe investors have come to expect great results from Tractor Supply, which may be more difficult in the coming quarters," Thomas said.