Markets & Finance

On the Move: Danone, Total, Schering


From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

Spain

METROVACESA was down €1.10 to €55.30. Ibersecurities said higher interest rates will negatively affect companies with high debt levels and without fx hedging. It said real estate companies such as Metrovacesa and Colonial could be among the most affected, although it noted that 75% of their debt is covered.

Switzerland

ZURICH FINANCIAL was up CHF3.75 to CHF263.50. The company named Markus Hongler to head the Swiss business from January 1, replacing current Swiss head Hans-Joerg Bernet who is retiring. Separately, the company has begun selling subordinated debt in a private placement to a limited number of qualified investors in order to help bolster its capital.

United Kingdom

BARCLAYS (BCS) was down £0.06 to £5.96. The company expects fiscal 2005 earnings in line with contributions well spread by business line. It expects fiscal 2005 EPS to be broadly in line with the market consensus. It added that Barclays Capital delivered very strong profit growth.

BRAMBLES INDS. was up £0.37 to £4.01. The company plans to streamline the group and unify its dual-listed companies structure by the creation of a new single holding company focused on its premium growth businesses, CHEP and Recall. It plans to sell Cleanaway, Brambles Industrial Services (BIS) and the regional businesses and said the new company will be a single Australian holding company with a primary listing on the Australian Stock Exchange and a secondary listing on the LSE.

BP (BP) was down £0.03 to £6.42. The oil giant will plow profit from its oil and gas business into alternative energy projects, the WSJ wrote, saying the company expects to invest as much as US$8 billion in alternative energy including solar, wind, hydrogen and carbon abatement technology over 10 years.

P&O was up £0.05 to £4.40. Dubai Ports World launched a recommended bid for the company at £4.43 per share, valuing the company at £3.30 billion.

SKYEPHARMA was down £0.02 to £0.46. UK biotech group Vectura has asked to begin merger talks with the company, according to The Independent. It said the emergence of a new, small suitor comes amid investor demands for the company to speed up the auction process and accelerate the departure of Ian Gowrie-Smith, the long-standing chairman whose relations with the City have become increasingly strained.

Italy

UNICREDIT was down €0.08 to €5.30. ING lifted its target price to €6 from €5.3 and revised upward its 2005-07 EPS estimates for the company and for its combined entity, following the successful completion of the HVB and BA-CA offers. Separately, Morgan Stanley is reportedly placing 185 million of the company 's shares from Munich Re at a price range of €5.33 to €5.38.

Nordics

LUNDBECK was down DKK10.25 to DKK129.00. The company announced that the ongoing review of bifeprunox clinical data will lead to a delayed submission of the registration dossiers in the EU, now aimed for 2008, depending on the completion of additional phase III comparative clinical work. Reminder: Bifeprunox is a novel compound (a D2 and 5-HT1A partial agonist) for the treatment of schizophrenia and other mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder.

France

DANONE (DA) was up €1.60 to €86.90. The stock was up sharply on strong volumes as traders noted market speculation that Altria's Kraft unit might bid for the company. The US's Altria could be splitting into three parts earlier than expected - tobacco, Kraft and the SAB stake - allowing Kraft to launch a bid over Danone.

TOTAL (TOT) was down €1.10 to €213.60. The company will pay €5.2 million to settle a case accusing it of using forced labor in Myanmar. Meanwhile, oil prices remain subdued, with WTI trading below US$ 57/bbl after settling at US$57.36/bbl on NYMEX last night. A report by Mitsubishi last night suggested crude oil prices could fall below US$55/bbl on warm weather.

VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT was up €0.67 to €36.15. HSBC raised its target price to €45.5 from €37.5 and kept its overweight rating. The broker thinks the US and Chinese water markets offer significant growth opportunities and the company seems well placed in China because it has a competitive advantage in industrial and municipal outsourcing. The broker noted that Suez (SZE)(neutral) is also well-established in China but is primarily focused on water in Europe.

Germany

SCHERING (SHR) was up €0.87 to €54.58. The company plans a new share buyback program next year as cost cutting efforts are going well. Also, the company aims to raise its dividend payment, CEO Erlen told FTD. Furthermore, it announced two new co-operations in the field of diagnostic imaging.

THYSSEN KRUPP was down €0.13 to €17.15. Dofasco can still accept better offers, the Canadian steel maker's CEO said Monday after the company launched a US$4.1 billion bid, trying to outbid Arcelor.

DEUTSCHE TELEKOM (DT) was down €0.01 to €14.24. A court stopped the integration of the T-Online unit saying the merger will have to wait until shareholder objections are resolved.

MUNICH RE was down €0.81 to €110.86. The company cut its stake in Unicredito to below 5% after Morgan Stanley placed Unicredito shares from the company at a €5.33 to 5.38 price range.

Netherlands

AHOLD was up €0.42 to €6.45. The company reported third quarter operating loss of €638 million, up from €99 million profit reported in third quarter04. Loss includes €896 million for a securities class action settlement announced yesterday. Ex-settlement effect, operating profit increased to € 258 million in the quarter and net profit increases to € 346 million. Net sales are up 0.7% to €10.2 billion, or up 0.3% ex-fx. Prepared by Zaida Espana, Valerie Vidal, Michael Sanderson, Mariella Mongio, Alexander Wisch, Holly Cook, Emma Stevenson, Pawan Girglani, Julien Manrique, and Rocio Opazo-Aniotz (Standard & Poor's); Alex Halperin (BusinessWeek Online)


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