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Three banks have recently upgraded their outlook on the company’s stock, with investment bank Bear Stearns last week upgrading its target valuation of the stock by 60% and raising its recommendation to “outperform.”

EMI: NORAH'S HUGE, STOCK'S UP, LOTT CONVERSATIONS CONTINUE

Label Group's on an Upswing... But Will Lott
Go or Stay?
Merger, shmerger. It's a big week for EMI. With Norah Jones' sophomore album, Feels Like Home (Blue Note), looking to have moved just under a million units in its first week, and with the English label group's stock on the rise thanks to improved results reflected in recent analyst reports, things are looking up at the moment.

But there's never a parade without someone to rain on it. According to today's New York Post, Virgin Records President/COO Roy Lott hasn’t been in Virgin’s office since last week’s Grammy Awards and is working out a deal to leave the label. Neither Lott nor EMI would comment on the piece, which also said newly named Marketing Exec.VP Randy Miller, who reports directly to Chairman/CEO Matt Serletic, has been performing many of Lott’s roles at the label.

However, inside sources say conversations between Lott and EMI brass have been ongoing for months and that nothing has yet been decided about Lott's future with the company.

Before becoming Serletic’s right-hand man at Virgin, Lott was Deputy President of EMI Music North America. Lott’s possible departure reportedly has nothing to do with Janet Jackson’s breast popping out at the Super Bowl, but may have to do with Virgin’s recent performance. The label has upcoming records from N.E.R.D. (March 23), Jackson (March 30), and Lenny Kravitz (summer), which could help.

It’s not all turmoil at EMI, however. Three banks have recently upgraded their outlook on the company’s stock, with investment bank Bear Stearns last week upgrading its target valuation of the stock by 60% and raising its recommendation to “outperform.” Bear Stearns was impressed by recent reports of expected midterm sales gains and a downturn in piracy. Analyst Mark Harrington said that stabilizing piracy should help recorded music grow 3% annually. And that was before Norah Jones was on track to sell around a million copies in her first week out.

At presstime, EMI’s stock was trading at 263.92, down slightly from last week’s 19-month high, but up for the day.

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