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Raymond James upgrades Western Union

the Associated Press

Raymond James analyst Wayne Johnson upgraded his rating on Western Union to "Outperform" Monday, after he had what he described as "an upbeat and encouraging tour of the company's digital office in San Francisco."

THE OPINION: The analyst said that Western Union, provides money transfer services around the globe, is undervalued at its current level and could grow soon based on its recent investments in key electronic and digital initiatives. He also pointed to an improving macro-economic environment, which could increase the number of and size of transactions it conducts.

Denver-based Western Union is investing more in its online business, which Johnson thinks could prove to be a meaningful opportunity over the next several years. He also said that he expects the company could begin offering online bank account-based money transfers, which are available in other countries, in the U.S. within the next 12 to 18 months.

Johnson upgraded his rating on the company to "Outperform" from "Market Perform" and established a $19 price target.

THE STOCK: Shares of Western Union took a sharp plunge in November but have gained more than 40 percent in value since then. The stock added 15 cents to $16.80 in late afternoon trading.