EIDOS INKED AS MARKET PERFORMER
Copyright 2001 www.tombraiderchronicles.com

[ November 7th 2001 ]

The growth potential of Next, the UK retail fashion chain, was highlighted on Tuesday by Lehman Brothers, which has a buy recommendation on the shares. The move coincided with news of a 20 per cent improvement in half-year profits at Marks & Spencer and with a report from the British Retail Consortium that high street sales in October were 6 per cent higher than a year earlier.

Lehman Brothers noted that Next plans to double its turnover during the six years to 2007, partly thanks to expanding its selling space. Elsewhere in the retailing sector, Credit Lyonnais Securities has buy recommendations on Electronics Boutique, House of Fraser, DFS and Arcadia. In the French market, it similarly favours Marionnaud, Camaieu, Zannier and Gifi. But the broker is cautious about consumer spending in 2002 and focuses its buy ratings on companies with low operational gearing and strong balance sheets.

Prudential, whose shares have outperformed in London during the past month, was cut from buy to market perform at Deutsche Bank although its analysts support the recent restructuring and disposals at the company. Credit Suisse First Boston also endorsed the deal with Winterthur, which is a subsidiary of Credit Suisse, but pointed out that Prudential shares trade at a significant premium to the insurance sector as a whole.

In Frankfurt, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter edged up its share price target for Allianz in response to the rising value of its minority stake in Munich Re. Allianz will be releasing its nine-month trading statement on November 14 which will reflect the estimated claims of E1bn to cover its exposure for the attacks in New York on September 11.

The London Stock Exchange's interim figures on Tuesday were better than the marketconsensus but Merrill Lynch took a cautious view of the scope for further share price growth and lowered its medium-term stance from accumulate to neutral. Its long-term rating is still a buy.

Beeson Gregory has a buy recommendation on Eidos, the computer games company which created Lara Croft. The broker says that 'under the new management team Eidos is transforming itself from a one-product company to a portfolio-based operation.' As a result, says Beeson Gregory, Eidos is no longer dependent upon the Tomb Raider franchise but can benefit from other licences including Commandos, Championship Manager, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

In the chemicals sector, DSM of the Netherlands was rated a buy at Bear Stearns inAmsterdam but in London Lehman Brothers cut ICI from buy to market perform while Old Mutual held European Colour as a hold but lowered its earnings estimates after the company reported a sharp decline in interim profits on Tuesday.

ABN Amro eased its view of Securicor from buy to add after US regulators publicised aserious breach of security procedures at O'Hare airport in Chicago. The contract for providing security at the airport is held by Argenbright which was recently acquired by Securicor.

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