UBS has upgraded the oil and gas group from “neutral” to “buy” and maintained its target price on the stock at 190p following recent weakness in the shares. The brokers says that the 22 per cent fall in the share price since the start of the year is “unjustified” given the company’s unchanged fundamentals, and sees the low price as a good buying opportunity as drilling prospects and new ventures – particularly in Malta and Nigeria ­– should provide a range of catalysts.

Credit Suisse has maintained its “outperform” rating on the stock and upped its target price to 3,400p from 3,250p following the recent re-rating of its peer Philip Morris International and strong stock performance by associate ITC. The broker expects BAT to have outperformed its competitors in Russia and Europe.

JP Morgan Cazenove has upgraded the bank to “overweight” from “neutral” with a target price of €4.76 and called it the preferred stock in “peripheral” Europe, saying that fears are overdone on the back of sovereign worries. The broker says Santander should benefit most from a reopening of the credit markets and easing funding costs, and that even with deep recessions in both Spain and turmoil across Latin America the shares still have value, and are attractive in the long term. It also expects the bank to increase its provisions against real estate closer to its 55 per cent expected loss.