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TreeHouse jumps as K-Cup patent expiration approaches

TreeHouse Foods (THS) is climbing ahead of the expiration of Green Mountain's (GMCR) patent on single serve coffee K-cup pods on September 16. Treehouse's Grove Square unit sells single serve coffee for use in Green Mountain’s Keurig coffee makers. Wal-Mart (WMT) is a Grove Square customer. In a note to investors earlier this morning, Citigroup upgraded its rating on shares of TreeHouse to Buy from Neutral, citing the upcoming launch of K-cup coffee by Treehouse. The firm estimates that the launch will increase TreeHouse's earnings per share, or EPS, by 10c next year, but adds that the product could generate up to $1.40 of annual EPS within the next several years. Citigroup expects Treehouse's K-Cup coffee to generate strong sales as its retail price will be 20% below that of Green Mountain, according to Citi. The firm raised its target on the stock to $61 from $56. In early trading, Treehouse shares rose $1.63, or 3.18%, to $52.87.