U.S. Markets open in 45 mins

Analyst raises ratings on Wright Express

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Wright Express Corp. slipped Thursday after an analyst raised some estimates but cautioned that the company could face challenges because of the sluggish economy.

Citi Research analyst Philip Stiller raised his price target to $66 per share from $55 per share for Wright Express, which sells gas station charge cards to government agencies and commercial businesses.

He also raised his earnings-per-share estimates for the third and fourth quarters and the fiscal year but maintained his "Sell" rating.

Wright Express' stock price has benefited from higher oil prices and its recent decision to acquire fuel card company Fleet One from private equity firms for $369 million in cash, Stiller told clients in a research note.

But the South Portland, Maine, company could be pressured by weaker transaction trends, year-over-year fuel price comparisons and higher service fees, he wrote.

In addition, both FedEx and UPS have warned about the impact of slower economic growth on their results, which could affect Wright Express, Stiller said.

Stiller increased his per-share estimate to $1.19 from $1.15 in the third quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet have predicted earnings of $1.13 per share. His fourth-quarter per-share estimate rose to $1.13 from $1.09. Analysts have forecast $1.05 per share.

For the year, Stiller forecast per-share earnings of $4.23, up from $4.15. Analysts predict earnings of $4.09 per share.

In afternoon trading, shares of Wright Express slipped 30 cents to $72.05. The price has ranged from $35.74 to $75.10 per share in the past 52 weeks.