BEST OF THE BROKERS

ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS
Panmure Gordon rates the owner of Silver Spoon and Twinings as a “buy” and said it remained confident of its 14 per cent earnings per growth forecast for the year. ABF last week confirmed that trading for the first two months of the year is in line with expectations and that it will benefit from good sugar pricing this year. The broker said with the shares having drifted lower, they remain attractive.

ASHMORE GROUP
Goldman Sachs said it expects a “solid 2012” performance from the financial services group Ashmore and reiterated its “neutral” rating, with a target price of 380p. Consensus earnings forecasts for Ashmore have declined 14 per cent from their peak in October, which the US bank said was due in part to a dampening in near-term performance fee expectations following volatility in financial markets. It said expectations are now at more realistic levels.

AEGIS
Nomura has reiterated its positive view on Aegis and rates the marketing services company as a “buy” with a target price of 175p. The bank said the firm continues to be the best-performing agency in 2011 “both in terms of fundamentals and share price performance” and predicts organic growth of 7.6 per cent for the full year 2011, “well ahead of its peers”. Nomura also highlighted Aegis’ clear acquisition strategy.