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BEST OF THE BROKERS

MARKS & SPENCER
UBS maintains a “buy” recommendation for Marks & Spencer and said that it forecasts first quarter like-for-like growth of three per cent in general merchandise and 1.5 per cent in food. UBS said the consensus may be a little higher and that there may be an Easter impact as last year’s first quarter saw a 0.7 per cent benefit.

AXA
Axa is selling a part of its UK business to Resolution for a total consideration of €3.3bn, of which €2.7bn is in cash and €500m in Resolution senior deferred consideration notes. Goldman Sachs has reiterated a “sell” rating for Axa and said that it lowers its three-month return on enterprise value price target to €16.

TESCO
Citigroup has issued a “sell” rating for Tesco and said that £58.4bn sales were expected but the outturn was just £56.9bn and that expectations were off 20 per cent with regard to the last seven weeks. Citi said that there are some wrinkles in Tesco’s sales growth data that deserve to be explored.