Investec has put its 'hold' rating for Royal Dutch Shell under review after a "substantial" net income miss by the oil producer in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, another negative surprise came from the company's higher-than-expected capital expenditure guidance in a separate statement. "Spending is set to be higher, for longer," the broker said
Panmure Gordon has kept its 'hold' rating and 3,000p target price for pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca after the firm's final results, saying that figures were not as bad as they could have been.
"Overall Q4 2012 results were more resilient than expected, continuing the trend seen across the sector of a much better Q4 than Q3 previously," said analyst Savvas Neophytou. He did however point out that consensus estimates for 2013 are likely to come down.
United Utilities’ update was in the finest traditions of its sector, dull as ditch-water. There is little elasticity in revenues, the only moving part being the consumption by commercial concerns, which is metered. United’s trading statement made clear that revenues were rising but at a rate slightly below that allowed by Ofwat, the industry regulator. This is because those commercial revenues are being hit by closing businesses and more frugal consumption by those that are still trading, as well as local councils. Meanwhile, United is facing higher power and other costs.
Even so, the company will raise dividends by 2% above inflation until the next regulatory period kicks off. Furthermore, it does not seem to be in the regulator´s (Ofwat) own best interest to beggar the water providers. In any case, shares of United still yield about 4.6% for this year, the best return among the three, which is no surprise — United is the purest water distributor. The others, Pennon Group and Severn Trent, have other unregulated businesses of varying sizes. Attractive for that safe yield alone then, Tempus concludes.
Apple never confirms who its suppliers are, but one is plainly Renishaw, the Gloucestershire company that gets about 28 per cent of its revenues from the Far East — mainly China, where iPhones and other smartphones and tablets are made using its precision-measuring tools. The company´s halfway figures yesterday made it clear that, although the first half was a record, the second half would show no further improvement.
Furthermore, the first-half performance was swollen by a glut of orders from China, linked to production of those tablets and smartphones. Furthermore, orders in the second half will have to contend with a strong performance in the second half of last time, while costs will be up because of increased investment. Even so, "if you are prepared to take a long view and disregard further price gyrations, they look like good value," The Times´s Tempus column says.
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of KCOM, the FTSE 250 broadband and communications provider, sold half a million shares at 73.5p each.
Paul Simpson, who has held the role of CFO since May 2004, earned £367,500 before tax from the transaction.
He now holds 1.02m shares in the group, equal to 0.198% of the issued share capital
The shortfall at Petra Diamonds is less significant than it might seem at first. The world’s sixth-largest producer said that while production rose by 31% in the first half to the end of December, to 1.25m carats, it would miss earlier guidance for the year of about 2.85m by about 200,000 carats. As well, as a result of its planned capital spending programme of $300m or more over this financial year and next Petra will be ramping up production by means of a more efficient extraction process. From investors’ point of view that means that earlier targets will be met, Tempus says. So the company is expected to hit production of five million carats a year by 2019.
With most of the capital spending behind it, Petra should be cash-positive by 2016 and in a position to start considering a dividend. By end of the year investors should also have news on the sale of three older and less productive mines announced in the autumn. Petra shares have recovered from below 100p in the autumn and closed at 114¼p last night. They should make further progress in due course on more positive news flow, Tempus concludes.
At 5.8 per cent National Grid pays the highest dividend of any company on the FTSE 100. However, can the company fund the upgrades the country needs and continue to pay a decent dividend to shareholders. Further complicating matters, the firm is in negotiations with Ofgem over a new pricing regime, but can it deliver? The Times´s Tempus believes that at the current moment those fears look misplaced. In fact, the company has indicated that it wishes to maintain the dividend, at least. National Grid’s trading statement yesterday had little to add. One business, where the poor outlook seemed intractable, was sold at the start of last year, but no further disposals look likely.
Tempus also believes that the Grid will not take it to the wire with the regulator. Even if it does, he does not think the company will want to disappoint on dividend growth. That attractive yield, the reason to hold the shares, looks safe enough for now he adds.
Media and advertising giant WPP was performing well on Wednesday morning after Jefferies upgraded its rating for the stock from 'hold' to 'buy'.
The broker said that an analysis WPP's largest clients and their 2013 ad budgets "looks encouraging" and "with expectations low, we see upside risk".
Posted in: IMT
Panmure Gordon has retained its 'buy' rating and 2,900p target price cigarette and tobacco group Imperial Tobacco but has raised some concerns after the company noted challenging conditions in some markets in the first quarter.
"We remain attracted to Imperial on its valuation; however in order for the discount to its peers to narrow we believe that delivery of its organic strategy needs to accelerate."
Valuation: Shares up 21% in 2013 so far
The shares have opened the New Year strongly (up 21% compared to a 3% rise in the
FTSE All-Share) and the discount to the sector continues to narrow: Now 47% (for
FY12) compared to 61% when we last wrote on Communisis (17 December). As
confidence grows in the company’s strategically driven growth, the discount could
continue to narrow.
Valuation: Unfair discount with trigger for it to reduce
ACD trades at a c 12% discount to NAV, wider than most peers despite a consistent,
low-volatility performance and yield in excess of 4%. A 20% capital return is possible
in 2013 if the discount fails to narrow sufficiently and continuation beyond December
2014 requires unanimous support from shareholders.
Posted in: BUMI
Nat Rothschild escalated his battle with Bumi's board yesterday, dismissing their plans for a radical shake-up of the Indonesian coal miner he co-founded – before they had even been announced. Mr Rothschild, pictured, rubbished the promotion of Eko Budianto to be new head of a key Bumi subsidiary, due to be announced today, claiming he is too close to the group's other founders, Indonesia's Bakrie brothers. Mr Budianto will replace Rosan Roeslani, a 9.8 per cent shareholder in Bumi, a month after the Takeover Panel ruled there had been improper disclosure about Mr Roeslani's close relationship with the Bakrie brothers. [The Independent]
Gary Elden is taking over as chief executive of SThree at an uncertain time. The recruitment consultant decided in the second half of 2011 to invest in building its team of consultants in expectation of a recovery in the market that did not materialise. That left a legacy of higher fixed costs, while the company opened another four offices around the globe, bringing the total to 64 in 18 countries. So total net fee income was up 5% to £205.3m over the year but administrative expenses grew by 8.8% to £180.2m. This left profits before tax almost 17% lower at £25.3m. The shares, after their strong performance in the second half, sell on 22 times this year’s earnings. That looks toppy; investors should consider taking some profits unless they take a very rosy view of the global economy, Tempus says.
Porvair is another of those British industrial companies doing all the right things on the global stage. It makes filters for aviation and energy markets and metals foundries and has increased revenues by an average of 11 per cent a year through the recession. More than half its production is in the UK. The key to future performance will be the introduction of new and increasingly sophisticated ranges of filters. More than four fifths of sales are of product that needs regular replacement, which gives some security of future earnings. Porvair is not immune to the world economy — in 2009, America’s carmakers shut up shop for four months and so did its business serving that industry. The shares, on about 17 times earnings, have had a fair run but look a good bet long term, The Times´s Tempus believes.
Panmure Gordon has raised its target price for real estate group British Land from 570p to 600p and retained its 'buy' rating following the company's third-quarter trading update.
The broker labelled Tuesday's statement as "robust" with British Land saying it has performed well against a difficult market backdrop.
Posted in: NORD
Valuation: Looking for a strong year
The reported production and guidance suggest that our 2012 earnings forecast is too
conservative (our model yields c US$500m in EBITDA, if we use the actuals), while the
risk to 2013 earnings lies on the downside. We nevertheless believe it is premature to
review our forecasts as the company seems to be overly conservative in its outlook.
We therefore maintain our DCF-derived target price of US$6.8/GDR. Apart from the
uncertainty surrounding the Buryatzoloto performance, low liquidity remains the major
constraint for the stock, which trades at a considerable discount to peers.