BEST OF THE BROKERS

HAYS
Shore Capital rates the recruitment group as a “hold” with a target price of 63p, but makes downgrades to its estimates, seeing exposure to Europe and high Australian conversion rates as negative pressures. The broker lowers its earnings per share forecasts for 2012, 2013 and 2014 by 4 per cent, 16.7 per cent and 17.6 per cent respectively, but says that barring Eurozone disaster, earnings forecasts are now bottoming.

PREMIER FOODS
Investec rates the UK’s largest food producer as a “buy” with a target price of 15p, following the disposal of its dedicated own-label business, Brooker Avana, last week. The broker sees the disposal as a positive step in Premier’s road to recovery, as a business it was forecasting to lose £25m this year has been sold for £30m. It also does not expect the loss of a contract to make Cadbury Drinking Chocolate to impact until into 2012.

STANDARD CHARTERED
Nomura rates the Asia-focused bank as a “buy” and keeps its target price at 1800p, following last week’s trading update. The broker sees the overall message as encouraging, and prefers Standard Chartered to developed market banks, saying policy action will be able to respond and offset real estate weakness to sustain growth. Nomura expects revenue growth of just above 10 per cent for 2011.