Best of the Brokers

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HOME RETAIL GROUP
Espirito Santo rates the retailer “sell” with a fair value of 85p. The broker sees the reported closure of the firm’s Argos joint venture in China as a sensible step, allowing management to focus on improving the key domestic business. Espirito Santo had expected the Chinese venture, which began trading four months ago, to post a £7m loss this year.

OCADO
Shore Capital retains its “sell” rating at 123.5p after the online grocery group opened its second distribution centre this week. The broker sees the centre as an important development, but will be watching operating margins following the £210m project. Shore has also warned Morrisons against a bid for Ocado, pointing out that Morrisons can better serve a fragmented client base from its existing network.

STANDARD LIFE
Panmure Gordon has a “buy” rating and a target price of 375p on the insurance and savings firm ahead of full-year results on 7 March. The broker expects operating profit to rise by 55 per cent to £841m, helped by a one-off litigation benefit. Despite a 58 per cent share price rise last year, Panmure remains upbeat about the stock, believing it will be a big beneficiary of the retail distribution review this year.