NEW YORK — Polo Ralph Lauren Inc.’s shares jumped $1.60, or 5.6 percent, to finish at $30.10 on the New York Stock Exchange Friday after J.P. Morgan Securities upgraded the stock and named it a top pick for 2004.

“We have increased confidence in Polo’s ability to deliver a considerable margin recovery in 2004 [fiscal 2005], which should be a catalyst for the stock, particularly in the second half of the year,” wrote analyst Noelle Grainger in a research note to investors. Among other key factors, Grainger said “Polo is best positioned among our coverage to benefit from shifting consumer preference to premium priced dressy and luxury products.”

With consumers’ appetites for luxury merchandise continuing to mount, “Polo should start to get credit for its evolution into a global premium lifestyle brand with proven execution capabilities after the spring Lauren launch,” Grainger wrote.

As for Polo’s retail operations, Grainger is also bullish, noting that its comparable-store sales and profit improvements are “encouraging and a trend we increasingly believe is sustainable.”

As such, J.P. Morgan raised its fiscal 2004 earnings estimate to $1.82 a share from $1.80, and its fiscal 2005 forecast to $2.40 from $2.25.

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