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Merrill Likely to Raise Capital, Post Loss: Lehman Analyst

Merrill Lynch is growing more likely to raise additional capital, and will likely post a modest loss in the second quarter, according to an analyst at Lehman Brothers.

"More important, management appears open to the idea of selling stakes in Bloomberg and/or Blackrock , having previously resisted the idea," analyst Roger Freeman wrote in a note.

Merrill , the world's largest brokerage, is also expected to post additional write-downs in net collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and subprime exposures, partially offset by gains in "Alt-A" and commercial mortgage-backed securities, Freeman said. (See the accompanying video for more.)

"At this point, we expect Merrill to report a modest loss, due mainly to incremental reductions in carrying values related to monoline hedges on asset-backed securities CDOs that we expect the firm to have to take," he said.

The analyst forecast a second-quarter loss of 64 cents a share for Merrill, compared with his prior view for a profit of 27 cents a share. He cut his price target on the stock to $47 from $49.

He rates Merrill "equal-weight." Freeman also forecast a loss of 53 cents a share for all of 2008. His prior estimate was for a profit of 40 cents a share.

Merrill is at risk of underperforming its peers in the near term as earnings estimates for its second quarter come down, he said.

Shares of Merrill closed at $36.28 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.