BEST OF THE BROKERS

G4S
Citi rates the security services company “buy / medium risk” with a target price of 270p. The broker expects later cycle recovery in G4S’s markets through the year, with its European business starting to accelerate in 2011. Citi applauds the firm’s focus on smaller firms in its acquisition strategy, given its track record with big purchases. But warns there is uncertainty around G4S’s justice services, which are facing fresh bidding rounds.

MARKS & SPENCER
Nomura rates the retailer “buy” with a target price of 430p. The broker expects a four per cent drop in like-for-like general merchandise sales for the fourth-quarter, with margin growth and cost savings helping to offset cost inflation. While Nomura thinks there is work to do on supply chain commitments, investors can expect a better outcome to the downturn story this year.

BG GROUP
Standard & Poor’s has upgraded the oil group from “hold” to “buy” with a 12-month target price of £16.50 after the crude price rise on worries in the Middle East. S&P is impressed by BG’s expansion in Brazil, and thinks it could divert LNG supplies from Europe to Japan to replace the damaged nuclear power supply. It also notes that BG’s operations have now returned to normal following the unrest.