BEST OF THE BROKERS

MITCHELLS & BUTLERS
Numis rates the pub group “hold” with a 250p target price due to M&B’s uncertain future with just a week to go before Joe Lewis’ investment vehicle Piedmont must submit a formal offer. Management has rejected his 230p per share bid, but it could be accepted if major investors Elpida and Smoothfield support that price. Numis says the low price could disappoint minority investors but the sector as a whole could benefit from a smaller M&B.

INFORMA GROUP
Collins Stewart rates Informa a “buy” with a 507p target price ahead of its trading statement in two weeks. The broker believes the events and publishing group shows defensive characteristics that make it a good investment in the current volatile environment. Informa delivered earnings growth throughout 2008 and 2009, and the broker expects 12 per cent earnings growth in this financial year. Debt has also almost halved since 2008.

LONMIN
UBS advises investors to sell the platinum miner with a 1,110p target price after its markets day seminar. The $1,500/oz spot price for platinum is well below the minimum level of about $1,900/oz needed to incentivise new production. UBS warns that large parts of the primary industry do not generate cash, and although long-term demand will be supported by vehicle fuel cell applications, that technology is currently very expensive to install.