BEST of the BROKERS

ANTOFAGASTA
UBS has downgraded the copper mining company from neutral to “sell” with a target price of 1,050p after updating its earnings per share estimates following second half results in mid-March. The broker downgrades 2012-14 earnings per share by seven to 12 per cent, expecting them to stagnate over the next two years as higher volumes from Esperanza are offset by lower copper prices and higher costs. It expects capex to increase from $773m to around $1bn in 2012/13.

VIVENDI
HSBC has downgraded its recommendation on the French media and telecoms from overweight to “neutral” and lowered its target price on the stock from €23 to €16. The broker said it expected Vivendi to be hit in the future by fierce competition from Free Mobile, a division of French mobile phone group SFR.

ARCELORMITTAL
Exane has upgraded the world’s largest steel company to “neutral” from underweight, seeing a step towards net debt reduction following its sale of a stake in Erdemir at a 20 per cent discount to its book value. Though the broker says further action is needed, it says the move shows management is serious about reducing its financial leverage. It expects first quarter results for 2012 to be a low point in the group’s operating performance, expecting Ebitda to be down 30 per cent against the fourth quarter, at around $1.2bn.