BEST OF THE BROKERS

IMPERIAL TOBACCO
RBS rates the cigarette manufacturer a “buy” following the announcement of price increases. It notes that this should more than offset the impact of increased excise rates in Spain. Imperial’s profit pool should remain largely unchanged from FY10 and continued cost savings should allow the group to deliver marginal profit growth. The broker notes that its investment case remains intact and reiterates its £23.80 target price.

AVOCET MINING
Evolution Securities retains its rating of the gold mining company as “neutral”, with exploration in West Africa key. It notes that Avocet is worth less with the likely sale of southeast Asian assets and sets a target price of 225p/200p. But, the broker says that the potential success from the drilling programme next year could replace the company’s lost ounces.

BAE SYSTEMS
Execution Noble reiterates its “buy” rating, with shares falling by 19 per cent since October.

BAE’s P/E discount versus the US peers has widened to 160 basis points. The broker says that recent beneficial moves in BAE’s pension discount rate, and the possibility of near term closing of the Platform Solutions disposal makes the discount excessive.