BEST OF THE BROKERS

WEIR GROUP
JP Morgan Cazenove has downgraded the engineering group from “overweight” to “neutral”, and says it expects uncertainty about near-term development in demand for fracking equipment to weigh on its share price. The company has been in the top three share price performers over the last two years. The broker expects continued growth this year, with earnings per share set to rise by 18 per cent, and maintains a target price of 2,300p.

IMI
UBS downgrades the industrial engineer from “buy” to “neutral”, after admitting it “can’t get excited” over growth prospects at the group. The broker is finding it difficult to remain bullish on the stock after weak third quarter growth, and says the four per cent organic growth reported will deteriorate further in 2012. UBS leaves its estimates unchanged, but sees modest downside risk, and lowers its target price from 950p to 900p.

GLENCORE
Citi rates the global commodities trader as a “buy” with a target price of 550p, and says it is likely to be the winner in the mining sector over the next five years. The brokers sees Glencore as delivering volume growth through its industrial assets, and says it is likely to be more insulated from rising costs and currency fluctuations that its peers. The broker also notes that Glencore’s marketing business is a margin business that benefits from higher prices.