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Merrill Lynch’s Richard Farmer Friday raised his price target for Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) to $52 from $46, ahead of the company’s earnings report this week.

Farmer says he expects the January quarter results to beat his current estimates of $24.5 billion in revenue and 63 cents a share in profits. (The Street sees $24.3 billion and 62 cents.)

Farmer increased his October 2007 EPS estimate to $2.57 a share from $2.54; he upped ‘08 to $2.98 a share from $2.93; ‘09 goes to $3.44 from $3.33. He writes:

We believe HP will post a strong January quarter though it may only be a modest catalyst for the stock, given positive expectations are widely held. We expect printing to perform well, particularly in lasers where Canon (NYSE:CAJ) results reflected strength. PC results should be strong given positive data points from the supply chain and recent IDC data. We are less confident in Unix and storage given known product transitions and late stages of product cycles. We believe the services business may post solid results. Industry standard servers should benefit from blades and option attach.

In another note Friday, Cowen’s Louis Miscioscia likewise asserted that the company should beat the Street for the fourth quarter. He notes that in the 7 quarters under Mark Hurd, the company has beat EPS consensus by an average of 3-5 cents a share. Miscioscia rates the stock Outperform.

HP Friday was down 12 cents at $42.56.

Today’s notes are the latest in a lengthening series of bullish comments from the Street. Here are links to some others:

  • Hewlett-Packard: Credit Suisse Boosts Target; Reports FY Q1 Tuesday (February 15, 2007)
  • Hewlett-Packard: B of A Boosts Target, Ests; Sees Solid PC, Services Demand; Possible Margin Upside (February 13, 2007)
  • HP Bumps Apple From Goldman’s “Conviction Buy List;” EMC Added To Americas Buy List (February 8, 2007)
  • HPQ 1-yr chart

    hpq chart

    Source: Hewlett-Packard: Estimates in for Strong Fourth Quarter