April 12, 2007

AstraZeneca, BAE, British Airways: U.K., Irish Equity Preview

The following stocks may rise or fall in U.K. and Irish markets today. Stock symbols are in parentheses and prices are from yesterday's close.

The benchmark FTSE 100 Index rose 20.50 to 6417.80 as 74 stocks rose, 23 fell and five were unchanged. The FTSE All-Share Index added 12.09 to 3343.84.

Ireland's ISEQ Index advanced 113.48, or 1.2 percent, to close at 9531.72.

U.K. Companies:

Alliance Boots Plc (AB/ LN): Financier Guy Hands' Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd. and Wellcome Trust Ltd. said they may bid for Alliance Boots Plc, competing with an offer from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. for the largest U.K. drugstore chain. Alliance Boots shares rose 6 pence, or 0.6 percent, to 1,035 pence.

Anglo American Plc (AAL LN): The world's second-largest mining company increased former Chief Executive Officer Tony Trahar's total compensation by 23 percent last year as its stock gained more than larger rival BHP Billiton Ltd. Anglo shares advanced 37 pence, or 1.4 percent, to 2,780 pence.

Aricom Plc (TIO LN): The U.K. miner of iron ore and titanium in Russia said its loss narrowed last year. The shares increased 4.5 pence, or 5.5 percent, to 86 pence.

AssetCo PLC (ASTO LN): Shares of the company, which provides managed care services to United Kingdom fire and rescue authorities, were rated ``buy'' in new coverage at ABN Amro Holding NV, which said ``AssetCo has first-mover advantage in a market where strong outsourcing drivers exist.'' The shares slid 0.5 pence, or 0.3 percent, to 176.

AstraZeneca Plc (AZN LN): The maker of the Crestor cholesterol pill sued Novartis AG's Sandoz unit to block U.S. regulatory approval of the schizophrenia medicine Seroquel until 2011. AstraZeneca shares lost 31 pence, or 1.1 percent, to 2,735 pence.

BAE Systems Plc (BA/ LN): BAE is leading efforts to sell Eurofighter Typhoons to India and Japan, on behalf of its joint- venture partners, European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. and Italy's Finmeccanica SpA, the London-based Times reported. BAE shares rose 3.75 pence, or 0.8 percent, to 461.75 pence.

BDI Mining Corp. (BMG LN): Gem Diamonds Ltd., which unearthed the world's biggest diamond in 13 years, agreed to offer 37 pence a share for BDI, according to a statement. The offer values London-based BDI at about 41.9 million pounds ($82.9 million), Gem said. BDI shares were unchanged at 34 pence.

British Airways Plc (BAY LN): Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA said it is ``very possible'' that the Spanish airline will ``strengthen'' ties to British Airways, the London-based Times said, citing Director General Enrique Donaire. The shares gained 4 pence, or 0.8 percent, to 512.5 pence.

British Energy Group Plc (BGY LN): Shares of the U.K.'s largest power generator were rated ``buy'' in new coverage at ABN Amro.

``We conclude there is a strong likelihood the company can create significant value from new nuclear projects,'' the bank said. The shares added 9.25 pence, or 1.9 percent, to 497.25.

Marston's Plc (MARS LN): The U.K. brewer and pub owner that sponsors the England cricket team is near to agreeing the sale of 300 pubs for 100 million pounds, the Times said, citing no one. The shares rose 0.5 pence, or 0.1 percent, to 439 pence.

Northumbrian Water Group Plc (NWG LN): Morgan Stanley raised its recommendation on the company, which supplies 4.6 million people in England and Gibraltar, to ``overweight'' from ``equal- weight.'' The shares increased 4.25 pence, or 1.3 percent, to 321.25. The bank also raised Severn Trent Plc, the U.K.'s second- biggest water company, to ``equal-weight'' from ``underweight.''

Punch Taverns Plc (PUB LN): The company is in exclusive talks to sell as many as 1,000 of its pubs to Admiral Taverns Ltd., the London-based Times reported, without saying where it got the information. The shares rose 23 pence, or 1.8 percent, to 1,300 pence.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA LN): Turkiye Petrolleri A.O., Turkey's state oil company, and Shell will together extract natural gas in northern Iraq, Hurriyet reported. The shares declined 4 pence to close at 1,687 pence.

Vedanta Resources Plc (VED LN): India's largest copper producer said output of the metal rose 15 percent in the year to the end of March. Refined zinc output gained 23 percent. The shares increased 50 pence, or 3.6 percent, to 1432.

Woolworths Group Plc (WLW LN): Woolworth's management should curb spending on its stores and review its strategy after reporting a full-year loss last month, the Financial Times said, citing an interview with Baugur Group Hf Chief Executive Officer Jon Asgeir Johannesson. The shares lost 0.5 pence, or 1.7 percent, to 29.75 pence.

Xstrata Plc (XTA LN): The world's fourth-largest copper and nickel producer agreed to sell its aluminum assets to Apollo Management LP for $1.15 billion.

Separately, Credit Suisse Group raised its share-price estimate to 3500 pence from 3000 pence. ``Xstrata is the most exposed to the current rally in nickel and copper prices and therefore has the largest scope for earning upgrades amongst the big four miners,'' the bank wrote in a research note.

Xstrata shares added 44 pence, or 1.6 percent, to 2757 pence.

By: Sarah Thompson. Contact: sthompson17@bloomberg.net
Via: www.bloomberg.com

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