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October 19, 2006    

Eurofirst drops slightly on session

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by Elaine Frei

In Europe on Thursday, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 dropped 0.32 percent to 1,441.16 as quarterly reports continue to emerge from various sectors.

Food groups were lower on the session. Nestle said that it saw sales grow by 9.1 percent in the first nine months of the year, which was about what analysts expected, but investors were unhappy with that result, which was lower than the 9 percent sales growth reported by Danone earlier in the week. Danone was 1.6 percent lower to €115, while Nestle dropped 2.5 percent to SFr427.

In the semiconductors sector, declines in the US sent Infineon 2.2 percent lower to €9.85. In another computer-related sector, German software group SAP was hurt by the announcement that it would likely not meet estimates for the full year. Even though it reported that sales were up by 17 percent in the third quarter, SAP dropped 3.1 percent on the session to €159.45. Even though its outlook was disappointing, both Dresdner Kleinwort and WestLB maintained their recommendations of “buy” and “hold”, respectively on the software maker.

In the telecommunications sector, Nokia was 3.6 percent lower to €15.36. While the Finnish phone maker’s sales were up during the third quarter, its earnings were lower than had been forecast. Elsewhere in the sector, Ericsson added 1.7 percent to SKr27.05 as its joint venture with Sony helped group profits rise.

Other gainers on the session included tire maker Michelin, which added 3.3 percent to €61.65 on an increased targets share price from Dresdner Kleinwort. In addition, Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis was 2.2 percent higher to SFr75.45 on net profits that were 12 percent higher in the third quarter.

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