Markets & Finance

On the Move:ABN Amro, Altadis, Sodexho


Plus:Generali, Friends Provident, Deutsche Post and other European companies making headlines Tuesday

From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

United Kingdom

FRIENDS PROVIDENT was down £0.12 to £1.90.The company posted fiscal underlying pretax profit of £509 million, -3% - vs. expectations of £516 million; EEV Life & Pensions (EEV) PVNBP £7.074 billion, +31%; New Business £204 million, +42%.

MORRISON WM was down £0.07 to £3.08. Deutsche Bank downgraded the company to hold from buy and cut its target price to £3.35 from £3.45. It downgraded EPS by 7% this year, 21% next and in the year to January 2010 and EBIT margins for these years by 3.9%, 4.3% and 4.7% vs. 4.1%, 5.3% and 5.5% previously.

France

SODEXHO was up €0.67 to €54.35... Shares gain on merger/bid rumors - Shares rose on talk that the company could merge with Compass. However, other sources point out that a Dubai investment firm is looking at Compass.

Germany

DEUTSCHE POST was down €1.11 to €22.11. The company expects 2007 EBIT of at least €3.6 billion and a slight increase in sales. Reminder: the company achieved EBIT of €3.87 billion last year, which included €276 million from exercising exchangeable bonds on Postbank shares and selling Postbank stock.

LANXESS was down €1.19 to €37.14. The company's fourth quarter EBITDA before special items rose 18% to €105 million, a touch lower than expected. Net income was €2 million on quarterly sales down 7% to €1.67 billion.

MUNICH RE was up €0.01 to €115.35. The company's US unit made a net loss of US$1.03 billion last year, with earnings dented by additional provisions for asbestos claims of US$600 million - unexpected by the market - and a negative tax effect.

Nordics

NOKIA (NOK) was down €0.09 to €16.61. A takeover of Treo maker Palm could be finalized by Thursday, according to website Unstrung.com. The website said the company is considering a bid at US$19-US$20 per share, while Texas Pacific and Motorola (MOT) are also seen as possible bidders.

Spain

IBERIA was up €0.29 to €3.58. The company's shares gained ahead of the EU vote on the Open Skies proposal later this week. The company was seen as one of the chief beneficiaries of the deal, as it would be able to translate its proven long-haul capabilities in expanding in the US market.

ALTADIS was up €0.45 to €47.00. Private equity firm KKR is contemplating a bid for the company, reported ElEconomista.com. The company has asked its advisors - JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Rothschild - to examine alternatives to the bid from Imperial Tobacco (ITY), reported El Pais.

Italy

GENERALI was up €0.41 to €31.48. The FT wrote that the company may consider changing the makeup of its board. The proposed initiative, subject to shareholder approval, would see more business experts on the board.

Switzerland

LINDT & SPRUENGLI was up CHF220.00 to CHF32850.00. 2006 net profit rose 21% to CHF209 million - in line with expectations - and the company proposed to raise its dividend to CHF275 per registered share from CHF225 last time.

Netherlands

ABN AMRO (ABN) was up €1.06 to €31.00. Barclays (BCS) and the company confirmed that they are in exclusive merger talks. The company has stated that the talks are at an exploratory stage and that there is no certainty that they would lead to a transaction.

Claudia Perotti, Lydia Carroll, Sara Oscarsson, Isabell Witt, Michael Sanderson, Gaurav Panchal, Julien Manrique, John West, Ben Marino, Emma Stevenson, Pawan Girglani.

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