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Analyst cuts Moody's rating, lifts price target

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst lowered Moody's rating on Tuesday, citing tougher comparisons as the year progresses.

Benchmark's Edward Atorino cut Moody's to "Hold" from "Buy." In a client note the analyst said that the company is up against difficult ratings revenue comparisons in the third and fourth quarters, as it posted 35 percent and 42 percent increases in the respective year-ago periods. Atorino said that Moody's may see a low single-digit rise in ratings revenue in the third quarter and it may see a decline in the fourth quarter.

The analyst also feels that increased costs may limit earnings per share growth in the second half of the year.

Atorino noted that bond issuance trends are still generally favorable so far this year. He boosted Moody's price target to $71 from $60.

Shares of Moody's Corp. fell $1.01 to $63.99 in afternoon trading.