<strong>CLOSE BROTHERS</strong><br />UBS analysts initiated coverage on Close Brothers with a &ldquo;hold&rdquo; rating and 700p target price, saying that the new management&rsquo;s strategy should increase shareholder value over the next three years. However, the broker says the group faces near-term challenges including rising bad debt and lower stock market levels.<br /><br /><strong>PEARSON</strong><br />Reports that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to cut back on textbooks in favour of online educational texts could be interpreted as a minor negative for Pearson, said Panmure Gordon. The broker has a &ldquo;hold&rdquo; recommendation on the stock, envisaging pressure on the shares in the near-term.<br /><br /><strong>ASTRAZENECA</strong><br />Royal Bank of Scotland analysts upgraded their 2009 earnings per share forecast for AstraZeneca, mainly due to supply constraints on generic competition to its Toprol XL drug. Forecasts for 2010 remain broadly unchanged and the broker retains its &ldquo;hold&rdquo; rating with a target price of 2,300p.<br />