Best of the Brokers

PREMIER OIL
Liberum Capital rates the FTSE 250 firm as “sell” from a previous “hold” rating, saying “performance has to improve if this is to add significant value” and saying the firm’s explorations will not reap rewards for several years. Liberum’s Andrew Whitlock adds that performance will suffer in the medium term due to a focus on the “traditional core areas” of the North Sea and Asia. The price target has been cut to 320p.

PLAYTECH
Investec has downgraded the online gambling software group from “buy” to “hold”, calling Playtech a “Jekyll and Hyde” firm. Analyst James Hollins says that while the company continues to deliver “strong underlying growth”, it has been “undertaking ever-more ‘interesting’ activities” including buying a number of businesses from 48 per cent shareholder Teddy Sagi. However, the target price was raised to 400p.

SMITH & NEPHEW
Citigroup has upgraded the medical equipment company from “sell” to “buy”, saying it believes the firm will announce a share buyback scheme next year. The bank has forecasted an 11 per cent rise in earnings per share due to the buyback. Smith & Nephew, which is Europe’s leading maker of artificial hips and knees, hiked its dividend last month when reporting better than expected profits. A target price of 790p was set.