European airlines up on consolidation hopes

| December 14, 2006 | 0 Comments

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 ended the day at a five-year high as it closed 0.6 percent higher to 1,480.76. The gains came as analysts at Standard & Poor’s said that the active year in mergers and acquisitions could be topped by next year’s activity.

The airlines sector saw gains as investors looked for more consolidation in the sector after the recent record amount paid for the takeover of Qantas of Australia. Iberia was up 1.1 percent to €2.81, while Lufthansa added 1.3 percent to €20.87 and SAS gained 1.4 percent to SKr108.00.

In the pharmaceuticals sector, Novo Nordisk added 2.5 percent to DKr468 on an upgrade from “hold” to “buy” from Citigroup. The broker also raised Novo’s target share price from DKr445 to DKr525, citing the positioning of the drug maker and healthcare group to capture more business as more and more people become diabetic. It also said that Novo’s growth potential from its anti-obesity drug had not yet been priced into to its share value.

Also in the healthcare sector, Nestle and Novartis both benefited from Nestle’s agreement to purchase Novartis’ medical nutrition unit for $2.5 billion. The deal was said to position Nestle second only to Numico in providing special foods for patients. Nestle added 1.5 percent on the news, to SFr436, while Novartis gained 1.8 percent to SFr71.35 and Numico was up 2.9 percent to €40.13.

In the automobile manufacturing sector, Porsche was 2 percent higher to €955.00 when HVB increased its target share price from €995 to €1,104. Meanwhile, Volkswagen was 0.2 percent lower to €84.00.

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