BEST OF THE BROKERS

XSTRATA
Standard & Poor’s rates the miner “buy” with a target price of £14.61. The broker was impressed by the firm’s confident outlook at a recent investor day, when it announced $23bn extra investment over the next five years that S&P thinks will grow volumes by 80 per cent compared with 2009. It adds the firm is also likely to benefit from growing supply constraints.

WHITBREAD
Numis rates the leisure group “buy” with an increased target price of £22, from £20.50. It expects the firm’s management statement next Tuesday to be in line or above its recent performance, with Premier Inn growing well. It adds that revenue per available room continues to increase, albeit at a slower pace towards the end of 2010 on increased competition.

VODAFONE
Royal Bank of Scotland rates the mobile phone firm “sell” with a target price of 120p. It warns that a dividend from its stake in Verizon is still far from certain, with Verizon’s chief executive recently hinting at inward investment rather than a payout. The broker adds that Vodafone’s 2011 price to earnings ratio of 12.7 is far above the rest of the sector, making it expensive compared to peers.