BEST of the BROKERS

BT GROUP
JP Morgan Cazenove has downgraded the telecoms group from “overweight” to “neutral” following a strong share price performance that has seen it rise by 20 per cent over six months, compared to a drop of five per cent across the European telecoms sector. The broker sees revenue risk in both the full year and first quarter results, and though it remains positive in the long term, it sees a regulatory drag in the Openreach business that may lead to revenue guidance being reduced at next month’s results.

BARCLAYS
Investec has upgraded the bank from “hold” to “buy” with an unchanged target price of 240p, despite the shares having fallen by 20 per cent since 2 March. This is partly due to shares in Blackrock, which is 19.7 per cent owned by Barclays, closing at a near one-month high at the end of last month. However, the broker still sees weakness in its return on equity outlook.

BSKYB
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has downgraded its recommendation on the pay-TV provider to “underperform” , lowered its price target to 640p and reduced its longer term earnings forecast by 20 per cent. The broker blamed a less favourable subscriber mix and erosion of gross margins for the downgrade, saying the two combined would more than offset the benefit of lower broadband wholesale fees as was recently announced by Ofcom. However, it remains confident that Sky management will adopt the right strategy to maximise valuation “under any given scenario”.