Citywire for Financial Professionals
Share this page:
Stay connected:


Citywire printed articles sponsored by:

View the rest of this gallery online at

The Expert View: Marks & Spencer, Vodafone and Petra Diamonds

Our daily roundup of analysts' share recommendations and commentary, also featuring Sports Direct and Galliford Try.

by Michelle McGagh on Feb 20, 2014 at 05:01

Our daily round-up of analyst recommendations and commentary, featuring Marks & Spencer, Vodafone, Petra Diamonds, Sports Direct and Galliford Try.

If you’d like to receive news alerts on any of the stocks mentioned in The Expert View, click on the star icons below to add them to your favourites.

Key stats
Market capitalisation£8,171m
No. of shares out1,630m
No. of shares floating1,562m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees57518
Trading volume (10 day avg.)4m
Profit before tax£454m
Earnings per share28.20p
Cashflow per share56.65p
Cash per share13.01p

*Correct as at 19 Feb 2014

M&S new web offering leads to Jefferies upgrade

Jefferies has upgraded Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ after it launched a new website which analysts described as ‘industry-leading’.

Analyst Caroline Gulliver increased the target price for the shares from 480p to 600p (current price 501p) following the launch of the website and in-house e-commerce platform.

‘M&S’s long-awaited new, and custom built, website was unveiled [on Tuesday] and, in our minds, it is impressive,’ she said. ‘The customer interface is significantly improved with more video content, 50% bigger pictures and a streamlined look.’

Gulliver said that despite the ‘patchy’ track record to sustainable sales and profit ‘we believe the combination of an improved website, and improved delivery offering (to come), a quality product range at attractive prices, improved UK consumer confidence, supportive FX moves and good operating expenses should lead to a step change in M&S’ operating performance’.

Key stats
Market capitalisation£108,263m
No. of shares out48,467m
No. of shares floating48,372m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees91272
Trading volume (10 day avg.)132m
Profit before tax£429m
Earnings per share0.87p
Cashflow per share16.94p
Cash per share26.52p

*Correct as at 19 Feb 2014

Vodafone: the return of value

Nomura analysts have increased their target price for Vodafone (VOD.L) shares as they ‘pre-empt the forthcoming return of value’.

Kunal Randeria maintained a ‘buy’ recommendation and increased his target price to 255p (current price 223p) as Verizon plans to buy-back the stake Vodafone has in Verizon Wireless.

‘We pre-empt the forthcoming return of value and adjust our forward share count to reflect the imminent share consolidation,’ said Randeria. ‘While we acknowledge that promoting Vodafone’s investment case in recent months has been akin to pushing water uphill at times (owing to failing estimates and FX headwinds) the strategic premium has been supported by the rising sector valuation.’

He added that the reinvestment potential for the cash windfall could see £4.5 billion ploughed back into Vodafone.

Key stats
Market capitalisation£801m
No. of shares out512m
No. of shares floating366m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees5139
Trading volume (10 day avg.)1m
Turnover241m USD
Profit before tax19m USD
Earnings per share0.04 USD
Cashflow per share0.08 USD
Cash per share0.02 USD

*Correct as at 19 Feb 2014

Petra’s blue diamond is ‘exceptional’ but will there be more?

The sale of an ‘exceptional’ 29.6 carat blue diamond that was found by Petra Diamonds (PDL.L) in its Cullinan mine provided a boost for the company as it sold ‘well above recent valuation for blue stones’.

Analyst Dmiry Kalachev, analyst at Canaccord Genuity, maintained a ‘buy’ recommendation and a target price of 163p on the shares (current piece 156p).

Although the stone, which was sold on Valentine’s Day, added revenue ‘straight to the bottom line’, Kalachev was cautious about the ability to mine more stones of this calibre.

‘Given the unpredictable nature of Cullinan producing stones of this quality, we do not explicitly include these stones in our forecasts,’ he said.

He added: ‘We view Petra as one of the best positioned pure diamond plays to benefit from the developing supply shortage in the diamond sector.’

Key stats
Market capitalisation£4,595m
No. of shares out598m
No. of shares floating218m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees14076
Trading volume (10 day avg.)1m
Profit before tax£152m
Earnings per share24.42p
Cashflow per share32.90p
Cash per share24.63p

*Correct as at 19 Feb 2014

Sports Direct in good long-term health

Sportswear retailer Sports Direct (SPD.L) may have suffered a Q3 slowdown in sales but Liberum has maintained its ‘buy’ rating on the basis of a positive long-term outlook.

Analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi placed a target price of 850p (current price 767p) on the shares, saying the slowdown in sales was offset by ‘strong gross margin expansion, which is key’. The company said it was ‘very confident of achieving its full year 2014 earnings before tax target of £310 million.

‘The company is on track to meet market expectations,’ he said. ‘We think this is a decent performance and we maintain our view that Sports Direct is well positioned to drive long term growth both in the UK and overseas.’

Key stats
Market capitalisation£1,008m
No. of shares out82m
No. of shares floating78m
No. of common shareholdersnot stated
No. of employees4230
Trading volume (10 day avg.)0m
Profit before tax£58m
Earnings per share69.81p
Cashflow per share74.37p
Cash per share70.72p

*Correct as at 19 Feb 2014

Galliford Try: strategy is sensible but there are better buys

Good interim results from homebuilder Galliford Try (GFRD.L) were expected considering the boom in the property market but Numis analysts believe there are better housing and construction buys out there.

Analyst Howard Seymour retained a ‘hold’ recommendation and a target price of £12.15 on the shares (current price £12.27).

He said the medium-term strategy for the company, which it set out in its interims, was ‘interesting’ as it plans to double 2013 profits before tax and earning and focus on a ‘disciplined expansion In volumes’ by 2018.

‘In our view [the strategy] looks sensible on the basis of steady recovery enabling management strategy to be fulfilled, and will provide the investor with a very attractive level of yield throughout,’ said Seymour. ‘That said, we believe there are more compelling valuations and growth stocks in both housing and construction which we favour, so while Galliford remains a favoured play we retain a hold recommendation on higher estimates and target price.’

More about this:

Look up the shares

  • Sports Direct International PLC (SPD.L)
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Galliford Try PLC (GFRD.L)
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Petra Diamonds Ltd (PDL.L)
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Vodafone Group PLC (VOD.L)
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Marks and Spencer Group PLC (MKS.L)
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them


More galleries

 See all

leave a comment

Please sign in here or register here to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

Sorry, this link is not
quite ready yet