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Jeffereies upgrades El Paso Electric

NEW YORK (AP) -- El Paso Electric may test new highs Friday after Jefferies & Co. upgraded the company, saying that earnings projections have been held back only by delays of a rate-increase request now before regulators.

Analyst Paul B. Fremont expects new rates to be in effect by the summer of 2016. Fremont raised his rating on El Paso Electric to "Buy," from "Hold."

The company's predicted 2015 earnings are "artificially depressed" by the delay in getting higher rates approved by regulators, "which we believe will be resolved in the next rate case, Fremont wrote. The company has vastly improved its relationship" with the city of El Paso, he said.

El Paso shares have traded in a tight range over the past year, hitting a 52-week low last week. But they are easily within range of an all-time high of $35.71, set in late 2011.

Shares are up more than 6 percent this year and closed Thursday at $33.95.