BEST OF THE BROKERS

ITV
UBS rates the media company “buy” with a 12-month target price of 115p. The broker says that the firm’s strong results on Wednesday benefited from cost-cutting and a strong advertising environment, and forecasts five per cent growth in the second half of 2011. UBS adds that while the firm is focused on organic investment, an acquisition in production would complete ITV’s turnaround story.

STANDARD CHARTERED
Nomura has upgraded the Asian-focused bank to “neutral” and has lifted its target price from £16.90 to £17.70. The broker believes that Standard Chartered’s double-digit revenue growth is sustainable this year, but notes the risk of monetary tightening that could weaken growth. Nomura has trimmed its 2011 full-year pre-tax profit forecast slightly to £6.955bn, and expects 11 per cent cost growth during the year.

WHITBREAD
Standard & Poor’s rates the restaurant and hotel group “hold” with a target price of £17.90. The broker believes that the firm’s focus on value for money positions it well to take on government work as well as business customers. However, continued concerns about UK consumer spending is likely to weigh on the share price, S&P adds, despite slightly better than expected fourth-quarter results this week.