Markets & Finance

On the Move: Total, BAT, Vinci


From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

France

VINCI was up €2.05 to €70.95. The company has been declared the winner of the 50% stake being sold by the French government in toll-operator ASF after it bid €50 per ASF share, Les Echos reported. Sanef will go to Spain's Abertis. In total, the privatization will raise €14.50 billion to €15 billion for the state.

ASF was up €0.72 to €49.90 on the sale to Vinci.

FRANCE TELECOM (FTE) was down €0.15 to €21.25. The company is reportedly launching an offer for Telindus of €15.80 per share. The offer is subject to obtaining 75% of Telindus. Separately, the European Union is set to pass a bill forcing telecom groups to store data for as long as two years as it seeks to help in the fight against terrorism, the FT reported. The vote will also decide whether the telecom groups should deal with the charges incurred through data storage or whether they will receive compensation from the EU.

CARREFOUR was unchanged at €38.50. Deutsche Bank upgraded the supermarket giant to buy from hold and raised its price target to €46 from €39, highlighting the company's successful French hypermarket repositioning and steady growth in international returns.

TOTAL (TOT) was up €0.20 to €218.40. Weekly inventories for the week-ending December 9 showed a crude build of 0.9 million bbls vs. expectations of a draw of 1.5 million; gasoline build of 1.8 million, above forecasts of a 1 million build. Meanwhile, distillates showed a draw of 0.1 million vs. expectations of a 0.8 million build. WTI fell US$0.37 to US$61, on the news.

Germany

DEUTSCHE TELEKOM (DT) was down €0.09 to €13.99. The company may need to revalue its T-Mobile UK unit following the O2 takeover by Telefonica.

DEUTSCHE POST was down €0.09 to €19.57. The company has lifted its fiscal 2005 operating profit forecast to at least €3.7 billion from an earlier prediction of at least €3.6 billion. However, the new guidance includes a net €0.3 billion positive non-operating extraordinary effect. Therefore, the pure operating guidance fell from at least €3.6 billion to at least €3.4 billion. Meanwhile, S&P affirmed its A/A-1 rating on the company.

MORPHOSYS was up €1.25 to €39.15. The company signed an antibody license deal with Merck (MRK) for the use of the company 's human therapeutic antibody technology. The company will receive an up-front payment, annual user fees and Research and development funding. It is also eligible to receive license and milestone payments on projects in clinical development, and royalties on any end-products emerging from the co-operation.

SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES was down €0.16 to €14.24. Steag Hamatech, which the company has agreed to buy, said it won't reach its earlier fiscal year sales and loss forecasts because of the unexpected length of weakness in the economy.

Italy

B. POP. ITALIANA was down €0.33 to €6.92. The arrest of Gianpiero Fiorani, former CEO of the company , is a dark day for the Italian banking system, Banca Intesa CEO Corrado Passera was quoted as saying. Fiorani and four ex-managers were arrested yesterday in connection with the Banca Antonveneta takeover investigation, the Milan prosecutor's office said. Fiorani has been charged with criminal association for market rigging. Separately, according to F&M, the company 's board will announce the sale of BPL Leasing to Banca Italease for €50 million, generating a capital gain of about €20 million. The source said the sale of non-strategic assets will partly fund additional write-downs expected in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Netherlands

VNU was up €0.29 to €28.65. The company confirmed that it has been approached about a takeover by various parties and is evaluating the possibility. This news overshadowed the company 's forecast for fiscal year organic revenue growth of 5%-6%, slightly below previous guidance of 6%.

Nordics

SANDVIK was down SEK14.00 to SEK369.00 as the dollar fell against the euro.

SECURITAS was up SEK1.00 to SEK129.50. Securitas Security Services USA has received the highest level of protection afforded by the SAFETY Act from the Department of Homeland Security. The SAFETY Act (Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act) provides a system of risk and liability management benefits to providers of anti-terrorism products and services.

Spain

ABERTIS was down €0.42 to €21.72. Fitch has placed the company's Senior Unsecured A+ rating on watch negative following the announcement that it has won the bid for Sanef. The company 's consortium has emerged victorious in the bid for Sanef. The company will pay €58/share for the 75.7% stake, a total of €4.03 billion. No other Spanish companies were among the winners, with ASF going to Vinci and APRR to the Eiffage-Macquarie consortium.

Switzerland

CYTOS was up CHF3.75 to CHF48.75. The company's experimental vaccine for allergies has shown significant efficacy, reaching primary and secondary endpoints in a Phase IIa trial, the company said. Patients in the trial were suffering from symptoms relating to an allergy to house dust mites.

United Kingdom

BAT (BTI) was up £0.09 to £12.84. Lehman downgraded the stock to underweight from overweight, but upped its price target to £12.15 from £11.29 in a note about the tobacco sector.

IMPERIAL TOBACCO was unchanged at £17.30. Lehman upgraded the company to overweight from equal weight and raised its target to £19.55 from £15.24 in a note about the tobacco sector. The broker said the continuing trend of down-trading in developing markets remains a key theme for 2006 and the mid-term. UBS, however, downgraded the company to neutral from buy on valuation and softer growth outlook. The broker has a £18.30 price target.

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL (RDS) was down £0.05 to £18.74. CSFB cut its target to £21.70 from £22.14. The broker argued that the company still offers a similar free cash flow yield to peer averages, while paying for improving longer term. The broker maintained its outperform recommendation.

WHITTARD was up £0.05 to £0.90. The company has agreed to the terms of a recommended cash offer from Baugur for £0.90 in cash per share. The offer values the company at approximately £21.5 million.

GUS was up £0.10 to £9.94. Merrill Lynch upped its target price to £11.00 from £9.95, and kept a buy rating. JP Morgan upped its target price to £10.10 from £9.15, and kept the stock at neutral. 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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