Markets & Finance

Total, Neste Gain on Higher Crude


From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

France

TOTAL (TOT) rose €4.20 to €208.70 on Monday. WTI crude oil moved up to around US$64 per barrel Monday. The rise comes after the U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch for the Cayman Islands, which are in the Caribbean gateway to the oil and gas production region in the Gulf of Mexico.

ALTRAN gained €1.53 to €10.30. Oddo raised its price target to €9.1 from €8.5 and keeps its add rating as the company posted first half 2005 operating profit up by 60% year-over-year of €41.8 million, with an operating margin of 5.8%. The company has also raised its fiscal 2005 estimates by around 9%.

BOLLORE rose €4.70 to €123.50. The company announced on Saturday Vincent Bollore has increased its stake in the UK's Aegis to 17.38% from 15.43%.

VALLOUREC added €13.90 to €395.90. UBS initiated coverage on the shares with a buy rating and €520 target price. The broker says the company is set to benefit from improving fundamentals in the oil services sector on the back of increased drilling activity due to a tight supply/demand scenario.

Germany

MAN gained €0.07 to €39.17. The company has achieved its financial goals for the third quarter and confirmed forecasts for the full year, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported.

ZAPF CREATION fell €0.44 to €8.69. The company ordered a probe on its 2004 results. An audit showed that some U.S. accounts were not correct. This could lead to massive corrections in 2004 accounting.

DAIMLERCHRYSLER (DCX) rose €0.67 to €42.68. The company rejected MAN's bid for MTU -- the diesel engine maker -- because the offer is too low.

Italy

BPU rose €0.32 to €17.51. The company is considering acquiring Banca Popolare Etruria e Lazio, according to press reports.

UNICREDIT was unchanged at €4.66. Market rumors have it that the company has already reached its target of 65% of Germany's HVB shares in its takeover bid, which will end on Oct. 24.

MEDIASET fell €0.20 to €9.20. The Italian police has reportedly raided the company as part of a fraud probe involving Silvio Berlusconi and other company executives. The raid related to a case involving allegations of tax evasion, fraud and money laundering at the company by 14 people, including Berlusconi. Separately, according to Il Sole 24 Ore, the company and TI Media's La7 are considering launching some pay TV channels on the digital platform.

TISCALI was up €0.11 to €2.90. Antonio Calabro', president of the Italian communications authority, has reportedly said that News Corp.'s (NWS) chairman, Rupert Murdoch, is considering making acquisitions in Italy's telecommunication sector. Reports have repeatedly speculated on a Murdoch interest in Mediaset, while more recently he has been seen eyeing the company

Netherlands

PHILIPS (PHG) rose €0.40 to €21.64. The company reported third quarter net profit of €1.436 billion, up 22.5% on 5% higher sales. The company notes results included a €635 million non-taxable gain related to the NAVTEQ IPO. The company says sequential sales at Semiconductors rose 7% in US$ terms. It says inventories as a percentage of sales amounted to 13.2%, a record low for the third quarter. It adds that growth picked up in the third quarter and is on track with financial targets. Brokers were generally pleased: Dresdner KW reiterated its buy rating and €25.0 target; Petercam keeps its buy rating and €26.50 target; Rabo Securities keeps its buy rating and €27.0 target.

Nordic

HENNES & MAURITZ fell SEK3.50 to SEK261.50. The company posted sales up 7% year-over-year in September. It says Scandinavian sales have been good, but points out that the warm weather has had a negative effect in sales of outdoor wear, particularly in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Market consensus was for a 14% rise. Handelsbanken has been concerned that the warm weather and retail sales from the company's peers meant consensus estimates were too high. The broker had lowered its forecast to 12% from 14% ahead of the sales figures. The broker will now cut its 2005 third quarter sales growth estimate for 16.4% after this weak report. However, it is likely to maintain its buy recommendation.

OKOBANK was up €1.69 to €10.49. The company is selling shares at €7.20 each to existing shareholders in order to raise about €725 million to help finance the acquisition of Pohjola.

NESTE OIL added €2.09 to €27.40 on the strength in oil prices.

Switzerland

KUEHNE & NAGEL rose CHF10.00 to CHF309.00. The company bought ACR Logistics, formerly Hays Logistics, from Platinum Equity in a deal worth some €440 million. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed in early 2006. On a separate note, the company published nine month numbers a week earlier than planned, with profit rising to CHF216.7 million. EBITA climbed 16.3% to CHF321.8 million, while sales rose 20.1% to CHF10.079 billion. Zuercher Kantonalbank says sales lie above expectations, while EBITA is slightly disappointing. Notes net income was in-line.

UK

BP (BP) added £0.17 to £6.30. The company, Chevron, and ExxonMobil are in talks with India's largest private sector exploration company, Reliance Industries, for an interest in a field in India's Krishna Godavari basin, the FT writes. Reliance is said to be still considering its options.

MAN GROUP gained £0.25 to £15.66. The company says that contrary to market speculation, it is not currently in discussions with Refco or its advisers regarding a Refco acquisition. It also points out that the group has no direct financial exposure to Refco.

RENTOKIL INITIAL added £0.01 to £1.54. The company will this week face calls from investors for an EGM that could lead to the appointment of Sir Gerry Robinson as executive chairman, notes the Sunday Telegraph. It adds that Robinson is understood to have decided against mounting a bid.

AEGIS dipped £0.05 to £1.27. Late on Friday, Publicis confirmed it has decided that it is not in its best interest of its shareholders to maker an offer for the company. On the other hand, WPP confirmed that it is in talks with a private equity partner with a view to making an offer for the company. WPP adds its primary interest in the company is in Synovate, the company's market research business. WPP declined £0.04 to £5.48.

BSKYB was unchanged at £5.36. Easynet confirmed it has received an approach that could lead to an offer being made. According to The Sunday Telegraph, the company is to announce a takeover of Easynet, in a move that signals the start of a more aggressive battle against its cable TV rivals. Prepared by European MarketScope reporters Zaida Espana (France), Michael Sanderson (Germany), Mariella Mongio (Italy), Alexander Wisch (Netherlands), Holly Cook (Nordic), Emma Stevenson (Spain), Pawan Girglani (Switzerland), and Rocio Opazo-Aniotz (UK)


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