Best of the brokers

UBS has reduced its guidance on the insurance and pensions group following its share price rising by a third since the start of the year. The broker says that while Prudential remains “clearly the best managed insurer in the sector” and that recent full-year results are strong, this is now priced in and there is caution over the US. UBS has cut its guidance from “buy” to “hold” although its target is up to 1,150p.

Analysts at JP Morgan Cazenove now rate the energy company as “neutral”, up from its previous “underweight” guidance and raised its target price from 640p to 720p, saying that shares are the least risky in the UK’s energy sector. It says that a recent securities issue is a sign that National Grid’s dividend policy looks set to continue. The company is due to announce new dividend proposals shortly.

Investec has lifted its target price on the owner of Argos and Homebase, saying that changes to British shopping habits underline Argos’s core profitability. Investec says that squeezed family budgets have put an end to the “snob factor” which prevented the middle classes visiting Argos and that supermarkets’ increasing focus on food mean less competition. Home Retail’s target has been upped from 115p to 173p.