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Analyst lowers Polaris rating, price target

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Polaris Industries declined more than 3 percent Monday as an analyst downgraded the vehicle maker, citing difficult first-quarter comparisons.

THE SPARK: Jimmy Baker of B. Riley Caris cut Polaris to "Neutral" from "Buy" and trimmed its price target to $96 from $98.

THE ANALYSIS: Baker anticipates Polaris will report solid fourth-quarter results before the market open on Tuesday, but is growing increasingly concerned about the first quarter due to tougher comparisons.

For the first quarter ended March 31, 2012, Polaris earned $60.1 million, or 85 cents per share. Revenue totaled $673.8 million.

For its current first quarter, analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of $1.02 per share on revenue of $771.1 million.

Baker said in a client note that he is becoming less optimistic that the first quarter will see any benefit from a co-developed Bobcat product that's not been introduced yet. He believes that near-term expectations may need to be adjusted lower.

SHARE ACTION: Polaris Industries Inc.'s stock fell $2.55, or 2.7 percent, to $90.68 in afternoon trading. The shares have traded in a 52-week range of $62.92 to $93.89.