Alex. Brown & Sons' shares no longer have the dubious distinction of being among the least favorite financial company stocks on Wall Street.

Before last week, the stock had a 3.5 rating in First Call Corp.'s consensus ranking (see table on page 30), meaning that on average analysts had ratings of "hold" to "sell" on Alex. Brown. But last Monday, Prudential Securities - one of only two firms tracked by First Call Corp. that cover the brokerage company's stock - raised its rating to "buy," from "hold."

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