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Analyst upgrades Wal-Mart on appealing stock price

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst is lifting his rating on Wal-Mart Stores Inc., citing its appealing stock price.

Budd Bugatch of Raymond James boosted the world's biggest retailer to "Outperform" from "Market Perform." In a client note Thursday, the analyst said that Wal-Mart's stock is down about 6 percent since reporting its first-quarter results in mid-May. This compares with an approximately 1 percent dip in the S&P 500 over the same period of time.

Last month Wal-Mart reported that its first-quarter profit edged up just slightly and it struggled with a sales slump at its namesake business. The company gave a second-quarter profit outlook below Wall Street's expectations.

Wal-Mart is considered an economic bellwether because the Bentonville, Ark., retailer accounts for nearly 10 percent of nonautomotive retail spending in the U.S.

Bugatch said that he's long respected the chain's business and leadership team and views the current stock action as a buying opportunity for investors.

He set a price target of $84, implying he expects shares to rise about 13 percent from Wednesday's close.

Shares of Wal-Mart shed 86 cents to $73.60 in afternoon trading while the broader trading markets also slumped.