Best of the Brokers

KIER
Liberum has cut its rating on the construction and property group from "buy" to "hold" with a target price of 1,400p. The broker remains impressed by the firm's management team and strong balance sheet, but has downgraded the stock to reflect a soaring share price. Liberum also points out that Kier's aim of expanding its support services division could be achieved with a takeover bid for May Gurney.

DEBENHAMS
Peel Hunt rates the retailer "buy" with a price target of 115p ahead of an interim management statement tomorrow. The broker expects to see a slight slowdown in sales growth in the last 10 weeks to between 1.5 and two per cent. However, Peel Hunt maintains its positive stance on the firm, pointing out refurbishments, new sales channels and improving UK earnings.

ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS
Investec rates the shopping-to-sugar group "hold" with a target price of 1,300p. The broker has downgraded its earnings per share forecasts by two to three per cent following mixed fourth quarter results. While Primark and the sugar division have performed well, grocery and ingredients are having a tough time, Investec believes. Looming on the horizon is a possible slowdown in sugar, too.