Markets & Finance

Michelin Rises on Strong Results


From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

France

Tire maker Michelin was up €2.00 to €54.00 after the company posted first-half net profit up 5.5% to €385.9 million, while consolidated sales are flat year over year at €7.5 billion. This is better than forecasts of profits at €354 million and sales down 4.6%. The company said that first-half sales reflect a sharp contrast in passenger car and light truck replacement tire markets, with Europe declining by 0.8%, due to a sluggish macroeconomic climate, and North America up 3.3%, after higher prices were accepted in the market.

Havas advertising group was up €0.13 to €4.68 after major shareholder Vincent Bollore is said to have increased his stake in UK advertising group Aegis to about 6.03% of the group's capital. Bollore also controls 22% of Havas, which has been mentioned as a possible interested party in a takeover of Aegis.

Chemical maker Rhodia was down €0.08 to €1.59 after it reported deepening losses in the second quarter. The group posted a second-quarter loss of €197 million, compared to a profit in the period last year of €55 million. Its net operating loss climbed to 69 million, larger than the €21 million in operating loss it reported in the period last year.

Britain

EasyJet discount airline was up £0.07 to £2.58 after the group improved its fiscal-year pre-tax-profit guidance to in line. The company said that passenger numbers in the third quarter of 2005 rose 20.6% to 7.60 million, with a load factor at 84.9%. The group said that third-quarter total revenue was £342.90 million, up 19.5%, while total revenue per seat was £38.43, up 1.5%. The group said that unit costs rose 6.5% after a 61% rise in sterling fuel cost per seat. It added that the London bombings affected inbound travel to London but expects no material impact on fiscal-year results, barring further incidents. It raised its fiscal year pre-tax-profit guidance from below last year to in line.

Barclays bank was up £0.23 to £5.82 after announcing first-half total income of £7.9 billion, up 14%, pre-tax profit of £2.69 billion, up 9% and earnings per share of 29.1 pence, up 4%. The group said that pre-tax profit for its British banking unit was £1.3 billion, up 10%, and for its investment banking division, Barclays Capital, it was £703 million, up 20%.

Drugmaker Astrazeneca was up £0.27 to £26.26 after a study confirmed that a treatment switch is beneficial for women with early breast cancer. According to the Lancet medical journal, switching treatment to the drug anastrozole, the company's Arimidex, after two years of tamoxifen can improve event-free survival for postmenopausal women with early breast cancer. The study showed that at 28 months, event-free survival was 40% higher in the anastrozole group than in the tamoxifen group.

Germany

Newspaper group Axel Springer was unchanged at €98.00 after announcing that it would take over broadcaster ProsiebenSat.1 by purchasing common stock for €23.37 apiece. The newspaper group is offering €14.10 for each preference share, or a total purchase price of €2.47 billion. Axel Springer will hold 100% of the television company's common voting shares and 25% of preference shares. Prosieben was up €0.10 to €14.90 on the news.

Airline Lufthansa was up €0.12 to €10.58 as analysts predicted that its second-quarter operating profit will be unchanged from a year earlier. A poll compiled by Reuters put the figure at €149 million, while sales are seen rising to €4.44 billion from €4.36 billion in the second quarter of 2004. The company is expected to table a net profit of €74 million against €23 million in the red a year ago.

Sporting-goods maker Adidas was down €1.57 to €155.93 on mixed broker action. Morgan Stanley downgraded the group to equal-weight from overweight, lifting its target price for the stock to €164 from €154. ABN Amro lifted its target to €191 from €154, with a buy rating.

Italy

Banca Populare Italiana was up €0.14 to €8.25 after Giorgio Olmo, the company's new CEO, called a board meeting overnight to analyze possible solutions regarding its stake in Banca Antonveneta, the newspaper Finanza & Mercati wrote. According to the paper, among the options that the company is considering are organizing an international tender to offer its 40.86% stake in Antonveneta or finalising a deal with another Italian major bank, which, the paper says, could be Banca Intesa.

Netherlands

Philips Electronics was down €0.28 to €21.85, after the company announced its secondary offering of common shares in Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC is priced at $8.60 per American Depositary Share. Each ADS represents five TSMC common shares and, following the transaction, the company will retain a 16.6% stake in TSMC (compared to an 18.7% stake previously). Consequently, the company will receive gross proceeds of about €175 million and book a non-taxable gain of about €420 million in the third quarter of 2005.


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