BEST OF THE BROKERS

EASYJET
RBS rates the airline “hold” with a target price of 450p following easyJet’s December traffic data released last week. The figures, which showed a 7.6 per cent rise in traffic, were stronger than RBS’s expectations. The broker continues to have concerns about rising fuel costs, but expects earnings per share of 41.2p in 2011, up from 35.6p.

BETFAIR
Numis rates the online gambling specialist as a “buy”, with a target price of £16.00. The broker predicts that 2011 will be a good year for Betfair, as it pushes into newly-regulated markets and scales back investment. Numis points out that California has passed legislation allowing exchange betting from May, which is good news for Betfair.

IMPERIAL TOBACCO
Citigroup has downgraded Imperial and several large-cap tobacco firms to “hold” from “buy” with a target price of £20.50 after its research suggested that smoking could virtually disappear within 30 to 50 years, with price rises failing to compensate for dwindling sales by 2025. The broker also expects more bad regulatory news this year.