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The Associated Press March 4, 2010, 8:48AM ET

Rusal stock jumps on analyst 'buy' recommendations

Shares in the world's largest aluminum producer Rusal jumped 6 percent on Thursday after several investment banks issued buy recommendations for the stock.

Rusal went public in Hong Kong on Jan. 27 in a bid to pay down its massive debt. In compliance with the placing rules, investment banks were not allowed to give recommendations on the stock until Thursday.

Rusal closed 6.2 percent up at HK$8.53 at the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday -- its highest price since Feb. 11.

The Russian company's placing in January was clouded by controversy surrounding its massive debt and a lawsuit against its owner Oleg Deripaska.

The IPO attracted criticism that Hong Kong regulators were undermining the Chinese territory's credibility as a financial hub by allowing a company struggling with nearly $15 billion in debt to list shares.

Reacting to these concerns, the Hong Kong stock exchange restricted prospective buyers to investors willing to purchase at least HK$1 million ($129,000) in shares and warned potential investors of significant risk involved in the issue.

By floating a 10.6 percent stake, Rusal raised $2.2 billion in this IPO and cut its debt from $14.9 billion to $12.9 billion.

At least four investment banks issued "buy" calls on Rusal's stocks in their Thursday notes to investors as the coverage blackout expired.

Rusal's stock was rated "outperform" by Credit Suisse. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Liberum Capital and Hong Kong-based Bank of China International gave "buy" recommendations.

Credit Suisse said in its research note that it expects Rusal to benefit from the aluminum price recovery. The bank noted that it expects aluminum prices to rise to $1 a pound this year from 86 U.S. cents a pound in the second half of 2009.

Rusal's low-cost hydroelectric power at its Siberian-based plants "help make Rusal one of the lowest-cost global aluminum producers," Bank of American Merill Lynch said on Thursday.

Rusal's shares were priced at HK$10.80 ($1.38) at the start of the IPO. Analysts on Thursday named HK$10.3 to $11 as a target price for Rusal shares.

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