BEST OF THE BROKERS

AFREN
Brewin Dolphin rates the oil group “add” and has put its 128p target price under review following a group production update this week. The broker notes that Afren has underperformed on its original production targets for the year, though it beat its revised figures after ramping up work on its Nigerian project. But Brewin adds that Afren has significant upside potential in its 15-well exploration programme.

CLOSE BROTHERS
Shore Capital has raised its recommendation for the financial services group from “hold” to “buy” and has given it a sum-of-the-parts fair value of 760p. Shore believes the firm is well-positioned to weather the UK’s rough economy thanks to its strong balance sheet and relatively small exposure to problem asset classes. However, the broker points out that revenue pressures at its Winterflood arm are likely continue through the next year.

DOLPHIN CAPITAL INVESTORS
Panmure Gordon rates the Aim-listed resorts investor as a “buy” but has scaled back its target price from 83p to 79p, following a €8.5m share issue agreed at the end of last year. The broker is still satisfied by Dolphin’s cash balances, which would cover around one year’s costs, and availability of further loans. Panmure also reckons the firm’s price to net asset value ratio is anomalous at just 0.86 times.