BEST OF THE BROKERS

ARM HOLDINGS
Barclays has upgraded the Cambridge-based chipmaker from “equalweight” to “overweight” and raised its target price to 725p, saying it sees smartphone and tablet growth driving an upside to its expectations, as well as a return to positive estimate momentum. The broker expects ARM to maintain the upper hand versus Intel in tablets, and raises its 2012/13 earnings per share estimates to 15p and 18p, up four to five per cent.

C&C GROUP
JP Morgan has downgraded the Irish owner of Magners cider from “overweight” to “neutral” on the back of share price outperformance, after the company’s stock rose 37 per cent in the year to date. Though the broker still sees attractive cider volume growth in both domestic and international markets, this is offset by poor near-term prospects for pricing in Ireland, which delivers 40 per cent of Ebitda. The broker sets a target price of €3.65.

UNILEVER
Investec has downgraded the food and cosmetics group for the first time in 17 years, slashing its recommendation from “buy” to “hold” and dropping its target price from 2,170p to 2,100p. The broker says it expects another year of “slow grind” in 2012, and considers both re-inflating commodities and aggressive cost cutting at rival P&G as threats. Investec has also downgraded its forecasts by two per cent, reflecting flat margins in 2012.