Markets & Finance

On the Move: Novo Nordisk, Munich Re, SGS


From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

Spain

ALTADIS was up €0.53 to €35.52. Sales of low price tobacco brands have trebled and the low price segment now accounts for 28% of tobacco sales in Spain, El Pais reported. The company launched its cheapest brand, Ducados Rubios, in July.

REPSOL YPF (REP) was down €0.11 to €25.28. Following Friday's third quarter results, CSFB commented that the company's operating EBIT was slightly below broker's own forecasts. It cut its 2005 EPS forecasts by 4%, and 2006-07 numbers by 2%. SocGen raised its fair value assessment to €27 from €26, and kept its hold rating following strong third quarter results. The company is still the least-favored oil group in the broker's universe. Elsewhere, the company and partners Total (TOT), OMV and Saga announce they have made a sixth oil discovery in Libya's Block NC 186.

France

SANOFI-AVENTIS (SNY) was up €0.90 to €67.90. Total's (TOT) (-1.2%) CFO said the oil giant plans to keep its 12.79% stake in the pharmaceutical concern, according to Bloomberg. Total holds 178.5 million shares in Sanofi, a stake estimated at EUR 12 billion.

VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT was up €0.35 to €35.31. The company posted operating profits up to 17.3% and maintained fiscal 2005 guidance. It also reported nine months sales up 10.8% year over year to €18.1 billion. It announced nine months water revenues were up 13.9% to €6.52 billion, energy posted nine months revenues up 8.9% to €3.63 billion and transport generated €3.136 billion in sales, up 18.7%.

VINCI was up €0.65 to €67.75. The construction and concession company rose amid a French dilemma over the €13 billion sales of its stakes in 3 toll road operators. According to the FT, Spain gives special tax concessions for foreign acquisitions enabling Spanish bidders to make larger offers than rivals. Final bids were due today for APRR, Sanef and ASF. As many as 10 bids are expected

AIR France-KLM (AKH) was up €0.23 to €14.39. The company said October passenger traffic rose by 8.9%, with passenger numbers up 5.3% to 6.04 million people. It also reported that the load factor rose by 2.2% to 81.7%; and increased seating capacity was up 6%.

Italy

FIAT (FIA) was up €0.02 to €7.02. The company signed a definitive agreement with Ford Motor to co-operate on new generation of small cars. The new products will come to market in 2007-08 with a projected annual volume of about 240,000 units, dividend evenly. Separately, Morgan Stanley said the company posted stronger than expected third quarter numbers, but the broker left its fiscal year outlook unchanged.

Switzerland

SGS was up CHF60.50 to CHF1020.00. The group said it is aiming for CHF5 billion in revenues by 2008 and earnings of CHF80 per share. It also expects to reach an operating margin of 17% in 2008.

United Kingdom:

SCOTTISH POWER was up £0.19 to £5.79. Hopes of a bidding war pushed shares higher. Germany's E.ON could launch a hostile bid if talks continue to founder over the offer price, The Times reported. It is understood that the company is already preparing to draw up a defense against a hostile takeover bid should E.ON grow impatient. The company is said to be unenthusiastic about the level of the offer from E.ON, with a price range of £6.10 to £6.40 discussed recently by bankers advising both companies. Scottish & Southern has retained advisers CSFB with a view to making a possible offer for the company, The Independent reported.

SCOTTISH & SOUTHERN was up £0.18 to £10.01. The Independent said it is thought unlikely, that the company would wish to become embroiled in an auction with E.ON, which has already said that any offer is likely to be in cash.

P&O was up £0.14 to £4.48. The company is expected to meet potential buyers this week in an attempt to generate a bidding auction, according to The Guardian. The company is expected to begin formal talks soon with Dubai Ports World, but it emerged over the weekend that both Temasek, Singapore's state holding company, and Hutchinson Port Holdings of Hong Kong have appointed investment banks to advise them on potential bids.

RYANAIR was down £0.20 to £6.79. Exane BNP Paribas lifted its price target for the carrier to €7.20 from €6.40 but kept its neutral rating. The company reported first half revenue of €946.20 million, +33% and pre-tax profit of €237 million, up 18%. It said passenger numbers rose 29% to 18 million, and yields increased by 3%. The company said it remains cautious in its outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year but keeps fiscal year net profit guidance unchanged.

LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE was up £0.07 to £5.77. Speculation was mounting Sunday night that the Australian bank Macquarie was preparing to pounce on the company, after appointing Goldman Sachs (GS) as an adviser, The Guardian reported.

Netherlands

KPN (KPN) was down €0.10 to €8.08. The company posted profits for third quarter 2005 period of €334 million, down 9.0% year-over-year, on sales down 0.9% year-over-year to €2.93 billion. Operating profit landed at €581 million versus €661 million in the third quarter 2004.

VNU was up €0.10 to €26.65. The media company said it is continuing talks with IMS Health (RX) over a possible merger and has discussed changing or ending its agreement to buy the US group. Shareholders with 48% of stock do not support such a merger.

Germany

MUNICH RE was up €0.82 to €103.55. The company reported quarterly net income after minorities of €492 million, higher than expected, on near flat gross premiums of €9.2 million. The reinsurer said its goal of 12% RoE is within reach and it is considering an increase in its dividend payment.

COMMERZBANK was down €0.38 to €22.52. Morgan Stanley is placing 1.9 million shares in the company at €22.60 apiece.

METRO AG was up €0.58 to €37.35. The company's do-it-yourself unit Praktiker is expected to list its IPO later this month. The subscription period runs from November 7 to November 17 with €16 to €19 the indicated price. The company expects to sell 22 million shares, with option to release a further 4.5 million if there is sufficient demand.

Nordics

NOVO NORDISK (NVO) was up DKK8 to DKK336. Lehman Brothers upgraded the company to overweight and raised its price target to DKK375 from DKK330. It said this move reflected the compelling valuation from the company's products and the expectation of a growing share of the US insulin market following the launch of Levemir in 2006. Deutsche Bank (DB) upgraded the pharmaceutical outfit to buy from hold and lifted its target to DKK380 from DKK350. Prepared by Zaida Espana, Michael Sanderson, Mariella Mongio, Alexander Wisch, Holly Cook, Emma Stevenson, Pawan Girglani, and Rocio Opazo-Aniotz (Standard & Poor's); Alex Halperin (BusinessWeek Online)


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