Plus: Centrica, Wolters Kluwer, Syngenta, and other European stocks making headlines Thursday
HOME RETAIL was up £0.02 to £4.62. The company says it has had a strong start to the financial year in a highly competitive market. Remains cautious given the uncertain consumer outlook and FY expectations are unchanged. first quarter Argos sales £893 million, like-for-like sales +0.9% (vs forecast of no change); total sales +4.5%. Homebase sales £463 million, like-for-like +2.7% (vs forecast of 7.5%); total sales +5.2%.
CENTRICA was up £0.16 to £3.81. Citigroup upgrades to buy from hold, raises target to £4.15 from £4.05. The company says since hitting £3.97/sh in late May, the shares have drifted back closing yesterday at £3.64/sh, an 8.3% fall. Feels that the shares once again offer reasonable value. Upgrades earnings forecasts by 16% for 2007 and 7% for 2008 onwards.
SANOFI-AVENTIS (SNY) was down €4.26 to €63.00. US regulators should reject proposed weight-loss pill Zimulti because of concerns that the treatment may increase suicidal thinking and depression, an advisory panel unanimously concluded. ABN Amro downgrades to sell from hold. Keeps €60 target. Exane BNP Paribas downgrades to neutral from outperform and cuts target to €70 from €80. HSBC downgrades to neutral from overweight and cuts target to €72.5 from €80.0. Morgan Stanley trims target to €81 from €86. Keeps overweight. Deutsche Bank lowers target to €70 from €76. Keeps buy. Lehman Brothers cuts target to €73 from €75. Keeps equal weight. Other brokers jumping on the bandwagon include SocGen (down to hold from buy), JP Morgan (down to neutral from o/w - target to €65 from €78) and Cheuvreux - though the latter cuts target to €74 from €80, but keeps o/p on Plavix and pipeline.
AIR LIQUIDE was up €3.98 to €93.13. Citigroup raises target to €90.00 from €81.82 to reflect the scrip and revisions to broker's DCF model. Thinks that the benefits of restructuring, the accretion from recent acquisitions, mainly JAG, and the benefits in second half07 of new contract start ups should ensure the company achieves double digit adjusted EPS growth in 2007. Keeps hold.
FRAPORT was up €2.43 to €53.69. Passenger numbers up 0.6% year-over-year in May - Cargo volumes increased by 0.3%.
WACKER CHEMIE was up €5.40 to €165.55. The company has earmarked €400 million to expand annual polysilicon production capacity at its Burghausen site by an additional 7,000 metric tons to a total 21.5,000 metric tons a year. Cheuvreux calculates that this will boost EBITDA in 2010 by roughly 8%. Rates stock outperform. Oppenheim says while solar demand continues to soar, polysilicon capacities are rocketing as well, and at some point we might run into oversupply. Keeps reduce.
DEUTSCHE POST was up €0.83 to €24.47. The European parliament's three biggest parties are understood to have agreed to completely open the member states' postal services by end 2010.
PIRELLI & C. was up €0.03 to €0.89. The company is growing 2.5% and it is close to the resolution of the operation Olimpia-Telco, reports websim.it. With the exit from Olimpia, the company would have an income that would be all invested in the core business of pneumatic tires.
FIAT was up €0.57 to €21.01. ACEA, the European car-makers association, says new car registrations in Europe fell 1.6% in May, the fourth monthly decline in a row. ACEA says Italy was the only country to show a rise, up 7.3%, thanks to government tax breaks to encourage sales of new, less polluting cars.
FINMECCANICA was up €0.57 to €23.47. A consortium led by L-3 Communications has been awarded a contract estimated at US$2.04 billion for procurement of up to 78 Joint Cargo Aircraft. the company , Rolls-Royce, Boeing and Honeywell are also part of the consortium.
WOLTERS KLUWER was up €0.57 to €22.87. Goldman Sachs upgrades to buy from neutral and ups target to €25.90 from EUR 23.48. The company says the European business publishers have re-rated YTD on the back of strong performance, driven by asset disposals and related cash returns. The broker's valuation framework also supports a positive view on the company
VEDIOR was up €0.54 to €21.75. UK peer issues confident outlook - Hays releases a positive trading statement this morning, saying the UK business has generated strong levels of growth with headline and like-for-like net fees in second half expected to be approximately 19% ahead of the same period last year. Sees UK & Ireland headline net fees up 13% (like-for-like +12%). the company has 13% of its revenues and 18% of EBIT deriving from UK operations.
AKZO NOBEL (AKZOY) was up €1.10 to €61.40. The company aims for US$2 billion China sales by 2012 and looks for 20% of its revenues to come from Asia Pacific by the same year reports Reuters, citing the company CEO Hans Wijers.
GENMAB was up DKK11.50 to DKK385.00. Goldman reiterates its conviction buy recommendation, with DKK510 target, post the recent share price weakness and following a presentation from the company at Goldman's Global Healthcare conference. The company says the presentation provided comfort on timelines for development programs. Expects phase III data from HuMax-CD20 by year-end 2007 or early 2008, as well as an increased focus from the company on earlier-stage programs and potential partnering agreements on HuMax-EGFr and the Unibody technology.
TANDBERG DATA was up NOK0.54 to NOK8.30. The company lands a three year OEM contract, valued at around US$40-50 million, for delivery of its LT03 tape drive.
SAS was up SEK5.00 to SEK164.00. The company is in talks with Lufthansa about selling its 20% stake in UK carrier BMI to the German flag carrier, according to German publication Handelsblatt. Separately, Private Spanish travel group Marsans says it will bid for 100% of the shares in Spanair, which the company put up for sale yesterday.
BBVA was up €0.59 to €18.32... Rumour Slim could be interested in the company - Sources say bid rumours are driving the company 's share price rise. Carlos Slim could be interested in the company , according to traders. One source says Slim could buy the company for €80 billion and then break it up. the company is to sell its headquarters in Madrid and various other buildings to take advantage of high property prices, reports El Pais. The company says the company will build a corporate campus instead, probably in Chamartin or Las Tablas.
ABERTIS was up €0.14 to €23.59. The company is finalizing a deal with Telefonica, Auna, BBVA and EADS to buy a 45% stake in satellite operator Hispasat for €375 million, reports Expansion. The company says this will give the company control of the firm. the company 's unit Eutelsat has a 27.7% stake in Hispasat. The paper adds the company will name Petra Mateos as Hispasat chairman. the company and Atlantia could incorporate a third partner - APRR - in their proposed merger, according to Finanza & Mercati.
SYNGENTA was up CHF8.40 to CHF232.90. The company 's CEO Michael Pragnell will step down at the end of 2007 and will be replaced by Mike Mack, currently Chief Operating Officer of Seeds. Swiss broker Vontobel says it expects a smooth transition for the company as it would not anticipate any major strategic changes going forward. The broker believes Mack is an ideal successor to Pragnell.
NOVARTIS (NVS) was up CHF0.55 to CHF68.35. CASH Daily says that there is talk in banking circles that following the sale of the Medical Nutrition and Gerber Products units, the company is now considering a sale of the stake in Roche. the company holds 6.2% of Roche's capital and 33.33% of votes through bearer shares. - In other news: UK
's health watchdog NICE reportedly recommends the use of Lucentis for a fifth of patients with a leading cause of blindness; Bloomberg reports the company has been sued by a biochemist over lack of royalties from two top-selling Arthritis drugs; UBS removes the company from its most preferred Swiss large caps list.