NEW YORK -- Salomon Brothers Inc. analyst Bruce Harting lifted his investment rating on Golden West Financial Corp. to "buy" from "hold," saying its stock is priced at the "most attractive" level compared with book value since the mid-1980s.

Mr. Harting noted that the stock at Monday's close was trading at a $3 premium to his targeted book value of $35 a share by yearend 1994. "That's just too cheap," he said.

At the end of the third quarter, Golden West's book value was $29 a share.

Mr. Harting also noted that the stock has been trading at about 1.3 times book value, below its historical level of between 1 1/2 time and twice book.

Mr. Harting, concerned about margin compression, had lowered his rating on Golden West in March when the stock was at about $47. The margin has since stabilized and his concerns about it have tapered off, he said.

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