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Life Technologies downgraded following 2013 gains

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Cowen & Co. analyst downgraded shares of Life Technologies Corp. Thursday, saying the stock has risen to a fair price.

THE OPINION: Analyst Doug Schenkel lowered his rating to "Neutral" from "Outperform." He said it is possible the life science and medical research instrument maker will be sold, but if that happens, the sale price won't be much higher than the current price of Life Technologies shares. He added that the company's earnings probably won't be much greater than Wall Street's estimates.

FactSet says analysts expect the company to earn $4.37 per share this year.

In January the Carlsbad, Calif., company said it had hired a bank to assist in its annual strategic review but had not decided on any specific course of action. Schenkel said Life Technologies could sell for about $62 per share in a leveraged buyout, while a competitor making a strategic deal probably wouldn't pay more than $65 to $70 per share.

Earlier this month The Wall Street Journal said investment manager KKR & Co. was considering pairing up with other private equity firms to pursue Life Technologies, while industrial and medical equipment maker Danaher Corp. and scientific instrument maker Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. are considering bids.

THE STOCK: Life Technologies lost $1.13 to $64.14 in afternoon trading. The shares are up 33.1 percent so far this year. The stock peaked at an all-time high of $65.84 on Jan. 30.