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MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Piper Jaffray & Co. Senior Fixed Income Research Analyst Jacob Mercer recently published the January 2004 Electric & Gas Utility Guide, providing investors with a road map through the current electric and gas utility environment. The report presents an in-depth analysis of the utility sector and a clear picture of electric and gas utility companies.

Mercer used several factors in his analysis of utility credits, including but not limited to, regulatory environment, service territory, customer growth rates, load growth, non regulated investments and management execution.

According to Mercer, most of the companies we analyzed in the report are going "back to basics" and trying to improve on core competencies, which he views as a positive trend for the sector. Nonetheless, he expects continued negative ratings actions in the near term, albeit at a slower pace than the last couple of years. In addition, Mercer expects merger and acquisition activity to continue in 2004.

For more information or to receive a copy of the January 2004 Electric and Gas Utility Guide, please contact Susan Beatty at susan.l.beatty@pjc.com or 612-303-5680.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Piper Jaffray & Co., a subsidiary of Piper Jaffray Companies (NYSE: PJC), is a focused securities firm dedicated to delivering superior financial advice, investment products and transaction execution within selected sectors of the financial services marketplace. The company operates through two primary revenue-generating segments - Capital Markets and Private Client Services. Investment Research, an independent group reporting to the CEO, supports clients of both segments. The firm serves corporations, government and non-profit entities, and institutional investors on a national basis and serves the financial advisory needs of private individuals predominantly across the western half of the United States. The firm has over 2900 employees in 123 offices in 23 states across the country and in London, England. For more information about Piper Jaffray, visit us online at www.piperjaffray.com .

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SOURCE Piper Jaffray & Co. CONTACT: Susan Beatty, Public Affairs and Media Relations of Piper Jaffray, +1-612-303-5680