Zacks.com, Chicago, has issued a #5/Strong Sell ranking on the stock of Washington Mutual Inc., Seattle, placing it on Zacks' list of Stocks to Sell Now.The company noted that WaMu recently reported earnings-per-share expectations that, though a year-over-year improvement, would be below the consensus forecast. "The company stated that gains from mortgage loans will be significantly lower in the fourth quarter than in the second quarter of 2003 due to lower mortgage loan volume, increasingly competitive pricing in the mortgage market, and a greater emphasis on the origination of adjustable-rate mortgages by the company," Zacks said. ".... Washington Mutual said it will now adjust its business to adapt to the new realities of the current environment, including steps to reduce operating costs and streamline and improve operations to drive efficiency, enhance customer service, and continue the growth of its leading national franchise. Such moves should help the company moving forward, but for right now investors may want to wait for its earnings estimates to head higher." Stocks with a #5/Strong Sell rank should be sold or avoided in the next one to three months, according to Zacks. The company can be found online at http://www.zacks.com.

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