BEST OF THE BROKERS

BETFAIR
Liberum Capital rates the gambling group “sell” with a target price of 850p. The broker believes that the market is attributing too much value to the LMAX, the firm’s contracts for difference exchange, given that volumes since December have been poor. Liberum expects the firm’s update on 8 March to show sales were hit by event cancellations due to the winter weather and headwinds in the poker business.

BHP BILLITON
Standard & Poor’s rates the miner “hold” with an increased target price of £27, up from £25, following Wednesday’s record results, driven by higher commodity prices. The broker believes BHP has sealed its reputation as the best in the mining sector, though the results gave little scope for a near-term catalyst for the share price, which are already at an all-time high. S&P says post-Potash acquisition activity is unlikely.

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS
JP Morgan Cazenove rates the hotel group “overweight” with a target price of £16.72. The broker has raised its 2011 earnings estimate by five per cent based on recent results, which suggest a tight control of cost inflation and the lucrative sale of some assets. JPM adds that the disposal of its flagship New York hotel could return up to $260m to investors, pushing earnings per share up nine per cent.