Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Investors Reach for BAT in Safety Search

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Investors Reach for BAT in Safety Search

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK

IT doesn't take long in a bear market for defensive stocks to find theirway back into investors' portfolios.

Take British American Tobacco, up 19p at 1899p today after Credit Suisserepeated its outperform rating and jacked up its target from 1800p to 1950p.

The broker thinks BAT's current valuation is underpinned by the group's strongdefensive attributes, and believes its fundamental strengths stand out in thecurrent market. It has slightly raised its 2007-12 forecasts for the group, andstill sees scope for further modest upgrades in 2008.

Rival Imperial Tobacco was also blowing smoke rings at the stockmarket bears asits shares rose 22p to a record 2561p after positive comments by Deutsche Bank.

The bears were feeling the squeeze elsewhere, having seen the rest of themarket drift lower for several days. Prices bounced back as short-sellers triedto square up open positions. The FTSE 100 index rose 42.1 to 6357.3 despite thebiggest drop in house prices for five years. Turnover was again low.

Mining shares once more made the early running with Xstrata up 91p at 3411pahead of a presentation in the City today. Anglo

American put on 83p at 3201p amid suggestions from Credit Suisse that it maybid for Vedanta Resources, 40p better at 2264p.

The Competition Commission has given the green light to the [pounds sterling]74 milliontakeover of Games Station by Game Group, up 212p at 183p. Game and GamesStation are the biggest retailers of video games and video consoles in thecountry, but the Commission concluded the merger would not lessen competitionfor the supply of gaming software and other related items.

Merrill Lynch has cut Standard Life, down 4p 1843p, from buy to neutral as partof a review of the European insurance landscape.

The broker has downgraded its earnings estimates by an average of 2% and iscutting is recommendation for the sector from overweight to neutral. …

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