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Sunday 12th of October 2008
February 24, 2006

Utilities again send European markets higher


by Elaine Frei

European equities markets were up in mid-afternoon trade on Friday, with the FTSE Eurofirst up 0.2 percent to 1,358.08. Additionally, Germany’s Xetra Dax was up 0.1 percent to 5,861.5 and the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.4 perent to 5,062.2

Companies related to food production and sales were mixed on the day. Danone was up 2 percent to €96.95 on an upgrade from “equalweight” to “overweight” from Morgan Stanley coupled with a new share price target of €108. Earnings growth for the company was predicted to reach the mid-teens in the next two years. Food retailer Ahold, the fourth largest in the world, was also up, by 1.3 percent to €6.99 as it said it is thinking of making significant acquisitions for the first time since it nearly went bankrupt three years ago. Numico, however, lost 3.1 percent to €35.99 on a downgrade to “in-line” by Goldman Sachs on the basis of its cautious outlook statement.

In the related brewing sector, Inbev was down 3.1 percent to €36.54 despite full year earnings reports which showed operating profits coming in slightly above predictions at €3.33 billion, with growth at 15.3 percent.

The utilities sector was still seeing bid rumours. Endsea, a bid target for Eon, was up 0.6 percent to €26.24. In new rumors, Gaz de France and Suez are said to be thinking of forming an alliance to repel a bid for Suez by Enel of Italy. Gaz de France gained 2.6 percent to €29.35 and Suez was up 4.1 percent to €33.32, while Enel dropped 0.7 percent to €7.12.

In the pharmaceuticals sector, Sanofi Aventis gained 0.5 percent to €72.45 despite announcing that the launch of its anti-obesity treatement in the United States could be put off until later in the year. The drug company’s full-year report showed that net profits were up by 25.7 percent to €6.34 billion, and it said that its earnings should grow by about 10 percent this year.

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