Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Market Report; ING's Grid Upgrade Helps Put a Spark into Trading

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Market Report; ING's Grid Upgrade Helps Put a Spark into Trading

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK

SHARES in National Grid Transco brightened an otherwise dull stock market today helped by a whopping upgrading of the stock by one of the big City players.

ING has lifted its 12-month target price for shares from 517p to 580p and is telling clients they are a buy.

The re-rating comes on the back of last week's full-year results that showed pre-tax profits rising from [pounds sterling]1.39 billion to [pounds sterling]1.43 billion.

Dealers say yesterday's disposal by Scottish Power, down 21/2p at 4671/4p, of its US offshoot PacifiCorp for [pounds sterling]5 billion has also focused attention back on the utilities sector. NGT firmed 13/4p to 5351/2p.

Kelda, the Yorkshire Water group, used to complain of too little rain and tell its customers to share baths. Now its US operations are complaining of too much and its American customers, who like their lawns the right shade of green, have been turning off their sprinkler systems after a wetter than normal year.

However, that did not hold back the profits too much in the year to 31 March which were up 16% at [pounds sterling]223 million. A bigger rise in the dividend, up 8% at 29p, sent Kelda shares to a new all-time high of 639p.

Also in utilities, shares of International Energy were suspended at 271p ahead of the proposed delisting of the shares.

Shareholders of IEG, which is based in Guernsey-and supplies gas to the Channel-Islands, Isle of Man and the Algarve, have been offered 273p a share for their holdings by the Australian company Prime Infrastructure.

Share prices generally continued drifting in thin trading. The latest survey from State Street Global Markets shows investor confidence has fallen not far off its record low achieved in October 1998. The FTSE 100 Index fell 3.1 to 4979.4.

Investors are continuing to take more than a passing interest in the drinks sector on the back of possible rival bids for Allied Domecq, 1/2p dearer at 6941/2p, from Pernod Ricard of France and the American wine distributor Constellation Brands. …

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