BEST OF THE BROKERS

HEINEKEN
Citigroup maintains its “buy” rating on the brewer, but raises its target price from £46 to £47 after increasing its earnings-per-share forecast for 2011-13 by around two per cent. The broker expects organic growth of around three per cent following first-quarter results last week, when the company posted its strongest volume growth in three years. Despite a hit from reduced tourism in Egypt, the performance was deemed a good start to the year.

BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO
Nomura rates the international tobacco group as a “buy”, with a target price of 2,800p. It says the company is its favoured name in tobacco. Believes the consistency of pricing, improved volume trends in 2011 and the medium-term opportunity for costs savings are underappreciated in both estimates and current multiples. This is boosted by the strong perfomance of Indian conglomerate ITC, which accounts for 10 per cent of BAT’s value, it says.

VIRGIN MEDIA
Evolution Securities rates the mobile, broadband and tv provider as a “buy” with a target price of £22, calling its result “reassuringly dull” after the company posted a solid set of first-quarter numbers in line with expectations. The broker was particularly impressed by the company’s progress on premium broadband, and by business revenues that surged by 14 per cent, providing a rich opportunity for the recently rebranded division.