Markets & Finance

On the Move: Imperial Tobacco, Hermes, MAN


Plus: Scania, Syngenta, Altadis and other European companies making headlines Thursday

From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

Germany

PREMIERE was up €2.72 to €18.04. The company's fourth quarter subscriber numbers rose, and, having reached a deal with rival Arena, the company lifted its forecasts for this year and next.

MAN was up €3.33 to €87.70. Goldman Sachs reinitiated coverage with a buy rating and €101 target. It added the company to its conviction buy list.

France:

VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT (VE) was up €0.60 to €54.95. Dresdner upgraded the company to buy from hold and raised its target to €48 from €60. It thinks the company should increasingly benefit from its maturing contracts, which offer visible cash flows that can be re-invested to sustain above sector average profit growth (currently not fully reflected in its rating).

RENAULT was up €0.50 to €92.40. The company posted fiscal 2006 revenues of €41.528 billion, down 0.8%. Group operating margin totaled €1.063 billion or 2.56% of revenues, vs. 3.20% in 2005.

HERMES was up €1.00 to €94.00. The company reported fiscal 2006 sales of €1.515 billion, +6.1%. Bloomberg said fourth quarter sales came in at €463.1 million, +6%.

United Kingdom

GLAXOSMITHKLINE (GSK) was up £0.25 to £14.25. The company posted fiscal year turnover of £23.225 billion, +9% at cer; op. profit was £7.808 billion, +17% at cer; pretax profit £7.799 billion, +19%; EPS 95.5p, +19% at cer.

HSBC was down £0.24 to £9.07. Panmure cut its target to £9.20 from £9.50 and kept its hold rating. It said the company's guidance on impairment charges amounts to a 7% cut in forecast pretax profit for 2006.

BG PLC was up £0.21 to £7.17. The company posted fourth quarter pretax profit pre-ex £410 million, -18%; revenue £1.897 billion, -10%; EPS 12.0p, -15% ; final DPS 4.20p, +3%.

IMPERIAL TOBACCO (ITY) was down £0.51 to £21.80. The company said it has agreed to acquire 100% of US cigarette firm CBHC Inc, which trades as Commonwealth Brands, from Houchens Industries for US$1.9 billion in cash. It anticipates that the acquisition will be completed by April 2007 and will be earnings accretive in the current financial year, before taking account of brand amortization and deferred tax on intangibles.

Spain

ALTADIS was down €1.66 to €39.80. Imperial Tobacco has acquired US firm CBHC for US$1.9 billion. Imperial has on several occasions been named as a likely buyer of the company.

Italy

FINMECCANICA was up €0.31 to €22.71. Shares edged higher after Airbus announced that the A380 project will face no more delays.

Switzerland

JULIUS BAER was up CHF8.60 to CHF160.70. The company posted net profit of CHF868 million for 2006 - comfortably ahead of expectations - with assets under management at a better-than-expected CHF361 billion. Net new money was CHF 27 billion with Private Banking contributing CHF6 billion and Asset Management CHF21 billion.

SYNGENTA was down CHF7.00 to CHF226.20. The company reported sales of US$8.05 billion, in-line with expectations of US$8.01 billion. EPS was at US$8.73, lower than the expected US$8.92.

Nordics

SCANIA was up SEK2.00 to SEK531.00. Goldman re-initiated coverage with a neutral rating and set the target at SEK520. It noted that the company's shares have held up well since the lapse of MAN's bid, as comments from VW and Investor have led to expectations of a high probability of a value-enhancing tie-up at some stage in the future.

ELISA COMMUNICATIONS was down €0.93 to €22.87. The company posted fiscal 2006 revenues of €1.52 billion, up 14%.

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