Markets & Finance

On the Move: BHP Billiton, ABN Amro, Nokia


Plus: Vallourec, Total, and other European stocks making headlines Friday

UK

BHP BILLITON (BHP) was up £0.29 to £11.94. The company could be stripped and sold for US$201 billion to provide a 34% return to any private equity groups that make a takeover bid, Merrill Lynch says. Any bid would likely be at a 30% premium to the company 's market value of US$140 billion.

BG PLC was down £0.05 to £7.50. The company posted first quarter operating profit of £823 million, down 14%, vs. analysts expectation of £794 million; EPS were 13.1p, down18%; production was 58.2 million barrels of oil equivalent, up 4%.

France

TOTAL (TOT) was down €0.45 to €55.21. The company reports first quarter adjusted net income of €3 billion -- beating consensus of €2.86 billion. However, first quarter profit ex-items of €3 billion is still down 11%; first quarter sales of € 37.04 billion, down 3%. The company says second quarter refining margins will be higher than first quarter. It sees 2007 output growth of less than 6%.

VALLOUREC (VLLP.PA) was up €10.38 to €214.66. The company reported first quarter sales of €1.453 billion, up 10.3% vs. consensus of €1.4 billion; net income, Group share of €237.7 million, up 11.6%. Valourec confirms the company should record sales growth of around 7% to 10% in 2007 (excluding the impact of the planned sale of its precision tubes activity). Cheuvreux ups target to €255, with the first quarter numbers 10% above its forecasts.

Germany

MUNICH RE (MUVGn.F) was down €1.62 to €132.08. The company reported estimates-exceeding first quarter net income before minority interests of €982 million on quarterly gross written premiums of €10 billion, a touch lower than expected. It expects EPS to grow by more than 10% on average from 2007-10, and plans more share buy-backs with a volume of over €3 billion up to 2010.

DEUTSCHE BOERSE (DB1Gn.F) was down €2.87 to €164.45. Shares of ICAP rise on market talk that Deutsche Boerse has approached Michael Spencer, who holds about a 21% stake in ICAP, regarding a bid. The company reports 17% rise in EBITA to €300.3 million. While a record, it misses the consensus estimate marginally.

LINDE (LINGe.DE) was up €0.04 to €84.41. The company reports first quarter operating profit of €569 million on quarterly revenues of €2.86 billion. Linde confirmed its outlook for 2007.

ALTANA (AAA) was down €26.31 to €20.25. The company is paying a special dividend of €33 per share from the sale of its drugs unit as well as a regular dividend of €1.30 per share and a bonus dividend of €0.50.

Italy

LOTTOMATICA (LTO.F) was up €1.43 to €31.19. Cheuvreux raises target to €38.00 from €36.50, and has the company on its selected list. The broker says that the company reported €211 million EBITDA, well above the broker's (cautious) €175 million forecast and €35 million net profit vs the broker's €33 million forecast. Good first quarter07 results driven by both the Italian (€210 million sales vs €205 million forecast) and US businesses (€225 million vs €201 million). Cheuvreux raised its business plan target for € 650-670 million EBITDA to €700-710 million. EPS and target price were also upgraded.

Netherlands

ABN AMRO (ABN) was down €0.05 to €36.55. The company continues to recommend its US$88 billion merger with Barclays, but will work with the RBS-led consortium in a 'constructive manner', Reuters reports citing a spokesperson. the company will reportedly meet the RBS-led consortium today. Rabo raises target to €36 from €34, maintaining hold. The broker says going forward expects clearly more court cases. As a result thinks it all will take quite some time to come to an end. Further, in a later stage broker expects action from the Dutch central bank, politics and unions.

Nordic

NOKIA (NOK) was down €0.29 to €18.59. Nokia-Siemens says it aims to cut 9,000 jobs by the end of 2010, saying the job cuts will help to reach its goal of annual savings of €1.5 billion. The company 's shares trade ex-dividend today. The dividend amounts to €0.43.

Spain

ALTADIS (TBCE.F) was up €2.08 to €50.60. Private equity firms CVC Capital Partners and PAI Partners present an offer in cash for 100% of the company at €50/share. The private equity firms say the offer is conditional on gaining 75% of the company 's share capital and the elimination of the 10% voting right limit. CVC and PAI seek a positive recommendation from the company 's board. Imperial is offering €47/share for the company.


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