Author stories Proactiveinvestors Author stories RSS feed en Thu, 19 Apr 2018 17:11:45 -0400 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) TAG Oil shares up as it secures US$10mln facility in bid to bolster Taranaki output Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:15:00 -0400 Canalaska Uranium's partner Cameco hits more uranium at West McArthur Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:42:00 -0400 Coro Mining advances as it will focus on Marimaca project; secures US$12mln to advance SCM Berta Thu, 19 Apr 2018 16:02:00 -0400 PRE-MARKET MOVERS: Takeda Pharma, Kinder Morgan, Qualcomm, Shire and more Thu, 19 Apr 2018 08:06:00 -0400 Pulse Oil, Prairie Provident and Point Loma in the frame when valuations "revert to norm", reckons broker Wed, 18 Apr 2018 15:13:00 -0400 RESAAS Services Inc welcomes expanded scope of agreement with Rhode Island Association Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:19:00 -0400 MGX Minerals' ZincNyx partners with Digital Energy Corporation to showcase technology in New York Wed, 18 Apr 2018 11:13:00 -0400 Global Energy Metals keenly awaiting first assays from Millennium, which could expand resource Wed, 18 Apr 2018 16:22:00 -0400 DelMar Pharmaceuticals boosted on positive clinical trials update for VAL-083 Tue, 17 Apr 2018 15:58:00 -0400 Lite Access Technologies names Arun Gupta as new finance chief Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:48:00 -0400 Will the latest commodity upswing signal renewed Chinese interest? Mining Capital's Alastair Ford tells Proactive he reckons as the latest commodity cycle begins to head north again, Chinese investors will begin to come into the market again, like last time.
It comes after metals explorer ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) this week revealed Shenyang Xinliaoan Machinery Co has agreed to subscribe for a 29.9% stake in the firm.
"In the last mining boom, a lot of scepticism arose about how easy it was to do business with the Chinese," says Ford, who added perhaps this was a small indication east and west had got to know each other better in the intervening period.

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 05:28:00 -0500
Mexico producer Endeavour Silver turning the focus to growth Brad Cooke, chief executive of  Endeavour Silver Corp (TSX: EDR, NYSE:EXK) walks Proactive through the Mexico focused metals producer.
Last year the miner produced just shy of 10mln ounces of silver and equivalents and is on track to repeat that this year.
As well as its three high grade producing mines, it has three development projects, two of which are subject to economic studies in the next 30 days so that production decisions can be made so the group can refocus on growth.

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:37:00 -0500
CUI Global Inc's bioMethane contract is huge opportunity, says Bill Clough William Clough, of Energy tech group CUI Global Inc, said it latest contract valued at over $750,000 from a major European industrial company to provide its bio-methane-to-grid system was a "huge opportunity".
"They chose us after a very intense search for what they felt would be the best and most efficient biomethane terminal creator in Europe and that was us. We've done almost 22 of these now in the UK," he said.
The company boss added that these are large scale biomethane terminals that connect the biomethane producer, whether that be a landfill, big brewery or big farming consortium to the network.
"We think this is a huge opportunity for us, especially in continental Europe," he told Andrew Scott.

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:56:00 -0500
Leading Edge Materials developing today the materials of tomorrow Blair Way, the president and chief executive, of newly rebranded Leading Edge Materials Corp (CVE:LEM) walks us through the firm with assets in Sweden.
The group was formed in August last year via the merger of Tasman Metals with Flinders Resources and its main asset is the Woxna graphite mine.
The focus is developing materials in preparation for the huge explosion in demand for a greener world and  greener energy, he  explains.

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 10:22:00 -0500
Davy analyst on Falcon Oil & Gas's Beetaloo Basin report Davy analyst Job Langbroek talks us through news today from  Toronto and London listed oiler Falcon Oil & Gas (LON:FOG, CVE:FO) and its Beetaloo Basin acreage.
Running through the detail of what is a technically recoverable resource statement from the firm's partner Origin Energy, Langbroek also considers the perceived shortage coming to Australia's domestic gas market.

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 07:45:00 -0500
Falcon Oil & Gas has "colossal" potential gas discovery, says Wood "This is a colossal, monumental even, potential discovery," says oil analyst Malcolm Graham Wood, referring to the Falcon Oil & Gas (LON:FOG, CVE:FO) Northern Territory news today.
In a report, Origin Energy, its partner and operator of 16,000-square kilometres of licences, put the gross best estimate of gas in place at a world-class 496 trillion cubic feet (TCF).
Converting that to oil equivalent, it stacks up to 82bn barrels.
"Whichever number you look at, it's very substantial indeed," said Graham Wood.

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 07:40:00 -0500
Falcon Oil & Gas boss 'more than pleased' with Beetaloo Basin gas in place report Philip O'Quigley, the chief executive of Falcon Oil & Gas (LON:FOG, CVE:FO), described himself as "more than pleased" with the report submitted by partner Origin Energy on its shale acreage in the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory, Australia.
It put a gross best estimate of gas in place at a world-class 496 trillion cubic feet - or up to 82bn barrels of oil equivalent - for the Velkerri B shale horizon.
But as O'Quigley points out that's just one horizon at Beetaloo. There are also the A and C horizons.
"So there's a lot more to go after but at a starting point of 496 trillion cubic feet  (TCF) just for the middle  Velkerri  it's a pretty good place to start."

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 05:45:00 -0500
Outlook for gold is quite strong, says Mining Capital's Ford Mining Capital's Alastair Ford talks over the upswing in the gold price of late in the wake of uncertainty after Donald Trump's presidential win and says he believes the outlook for the precious metal is "quite strong".
"I don't think the instability is going away," he tells Proactive's  Andrew Scott.
Companies which will probably be likely to benefit from this rise include Caledonia Mining (TSE:CAL, LON:CMCL) and Randgold Resources, he adds.

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 09:48:00 -0500
M Pharmaceutical boss looking forward to a great 2017 and 2018 Gary Thompson is at the helm of drug company M Pharmaceutical, which he describes as a "small company with big ideas".
Talking to Proactive, he said that when finished soon with its acquisition of Cincinnati-based 40 J’s, it will have a current revenue stream from about seven different products, which are FDA cleared.
There are also excitingly two products going through FDA process now - a side-effect-free version of the best-selling slimming product orlistat and a female sexual dysfunction (FSD) remedy.
"I'm looking forward to a great 2017 and 2018," said Thompson.

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 04:20:00 -0500
Gold-backed Exchange Traded Funds saw best year since 2009, says World Gold Council Last year saw demand for safe-haven gold surge on the back of political and economic uncertainty.
Alistair Hewitt, head of market intelligence at the World Gold Council, tells Proactive that demand increase was largely down to "huge institutional flows that were channeled into gold-backed ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).
Such ETFs had their best year in 2016 since 2009, he explains.

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 07:35:00 -0500
Broker roundup part 2 including Aminex, New Britain Palm Oil, Admiral and Hiscox

Broker Numis is optimistic that online gaming firm digital entertainment (LON:BPTY) will reach its share price target of 300 pence.

The shares are currently changing hands for 94.65 pence each.

"It is a long haul to our 300p price target and we need something of a following wind to get there," said analyst Ivor Jones, who rates the stock a 'buy'.

"But when we look at the performance of competitors like 888 and Paddy Power, flying high with a stable team and business, we feel optimistic that will get there too," he added.

Jones says that 2013 should be the year that gets back in the groove, when poker, for example, should have moved to one unified platform (from three).

In other coverage, broker Numis reckons that despite headwinds, car insurer Admiral (LON:ADM) remains a "quality underwriter".

Analyst Fahad Changazi noted that the firm reported a good set of interims yesterday and he still expects strong earnings and dividend growth.

"Importantly, claims trends remain stable, with COO David Stephens commenting that it was "increasingly looking like (2011 saw) abnormal claims experience"", noted the analyst.

Turning to other recent news, potential losses for Lloyds insurers from Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf of Mexico should not be severe enough to affect estimates this year, according to JP Morgan.

Stress testing for an extreme hurricane by the broker showed Catlin (LON:CGL) appears well placed to face a peak event, followed by Hiscox (LON:HSX), which JPM says is one of the more defensive stocks in the sector.

The broker also retains an overweight stance on Lancashire (LON:LRE), despite a high exposure to the hurricane as it says the company benefits from a high frequency low severity loss pattern.

Elsewhere, British utility SSE (LON:SSE) is a ‘buy’ as it offers investors a ‘free option’ on a recovery in the market, according to UBS’ London office.

Analyst Stephen Hunt said the group’s strong 6.4 per cent dividend helps put a floor under the share price as he upgraded the stock and set a £15.15 price target.

In the junior sector, oil explorer Aminex (LON:AEX) today hailed a breakthrough six months in which its exploration programme delivered spectacularly, and it revealed it is in the final stages of negotiating a US$15 million loan to fund further work in Tanzania.

The major development was the company’s Ntorya discovery in the Ruvuma Basin, which has unlocked 1.17 trillion cubic feet of gas, or the equivalent of 195 million barrels of oil.

Following the statement, analyst Craig Howie, of house broker Shore Capital, said:  "Aminex has a strong position in East Africa, in our opinion."

He noted that the launch of the new national pipeline project in Tanzania was expected to provide a direct route for Aminexgas by 2014.

"We continue to calculate risked NAV of 20p/share," he said.

Elsewhere, New Britain Palm Oil (LON:NBPO) is the subject of a note by Peel Hunt analyst Charles Hall.

He said the company continues to have a ‘strong and valuable’ position but investors need time to rebuild their confidence in the company following its disappointing interim results.

“There are a lot of moving parts in New Britain Palm Oil and a number of them have moved in the wrong direction at the same time,” he said in a note.

“Profits should recover next year, but to well below previous levels as a higher cost base gets baked in.” 

The extension to Global Energy Development’s $5 million loan notes helps the company improve its near term financial flexibility, said Northland Capital’s Andrew McGeary.

“The company is cash generative with low gearing and manageable borrowings. However, it is in a capital intensive phase whereby it is appraising its CHOPS development and will look to initiate shale tests on its assets located in the Magdalena valley.

Fri, 31 Aug 2012 11:19:00 -0400
Broker Roundup Part 2 including Kefi Minerals, Afferro Mining, Halfords, National Express and Alliance Pharma Coach group National Express (LON:NEX) has been upgraded to 'overweight' from 'equal-weight' by City firm Morgan Stanley, which gives the stock a price target of 290 pence (current price: 240.80 pence).

Analyst Jaime Rowbotham highlighted the broker's increased confidence in continued profitable growth in Spain in a note.

The company faces headwinds in its bus and coach business, but the analyst expects these to be more than offset by growth in Spain and US school bus, the analyst said.

"We sit 3 per cent ahead of consensus EPS for 2012, and see scope for further upside from contract gains in Bus," added Rowbotham.

Meanwhile, International Airlines Group (LON:IAG) - the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, comes under scrutiny from Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche rates the stock a 'buy' with a target price of 220 pence (current price: 180 pence).

Deutsche noted that premium traffic in March was strong, with long-haul flights to the USA the standout performance.

Short haul flights were tougher - especially to Spain, it noted.

"Overall traffic data an improvement on January and February. However, remember that Q1 is the least profitable of the four quarters, so such strong premium traffic in Q1 is an encouraging sign but there is the rest of the year to go and the group, like the industry, is facing significant fuel and, in certain regions, economic headwinds," said analyst Geof Collyer.

The German bank also issued a note today on international healthcare specialists BTG (LON:BGC)

In a pre-close statement yesterday on the year to March 31, the group revealed trading in its licensing and biotechnology businesses had been significantly ahead of expectations, driven by higher than expected royalties from haemophilia treatment BeneFIX and prostate cancer drug Zytiga.

The company has raised its estimated revenues for the year to £190 million - £195 mln from £160 mln -  £165mln.

"BTG's strong pre-close statement should further reassure that management is executing near flawlessly in its plans to build a leading US specialty business," said Deutsche analyst Richard Parkes.

Deutsche therefore has increased its 2012 revenue forecast by 12 per cent  to £192 million (guidance is £190mln - £195mln) reflecting higher revenues at the Licensing and Biotechnology division and one-off BeneFIX royalties, it said.

"Our forecasts for Interventional Medicine and Specialty Pharmaceuticals are little changed but guidance implies strong underlying performance. The transition to direct sales of the LC bead in the US seems to be going smoothly. In addition, a US launch of recently approved Voraxaze is planned by the end of April and will further leverage BTG's US commercial operations," added analyst Parkes.

Meanwhile, Swiss group UBS has upgraded software firm Microfocus (LON:MCRO) to 'buy' from 'neutral' with a target price of 525 pence (up from 440 pence previously).

"Micro Focus has now strung a handful of uneventful, in-line quarters together and we think much of the historic salesforce attrition/execution issues that impacted it are starting to be resolved," UBS said in a note.

Oil and gas exploration and production company SOCO (LON:SIA) is also upgraded today by UBS, which rates the stock 'neutral', when previously it was a 'sell'.

Its target price is unchanged at 300 pence a share.

In other broker coverage, Halfords (LON:HFD), the car parts and accessories retailer, released a disappointing trading update ahead of its full-year results.

The figures revealed a 2.3 per cent drop in like-for-like sales at Halfords’ core retail business in the 13 weeks to March 30, while the full-year decline reached 2.7 per cent.

Broker Investec (LON:INVP) reduced its target price for Halfords from 325 pence to 310 pence on the back of the report, while upholding its ‘buy’ recommendation on the stock.

Analyst David Jeary said the shares’ discount to peers is already pricing in a high degree of investment risk and uncertainty.

“The balance sheet remains very solid, cash generation is positive, and the dividend provides a key support, a point which management acknowledges and is acutely aware of,” said Jeary.

“We believe the combination of increased investment in 2013 and a strengthened senior operational management team should deliver increased profits from full year 2014.”

Turning to the smaller caps, Kefi Minerals (LON:KEFI) revealed high grade exploration results from the Hikyrin South and Selib North gold projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

So far it has completed mapping, trenching and sampling operations on the projects. Later in the current quarter drill work will begin.

Fox-Davies analyst Juan Alvarez today told clients in a note that it was‘good to see’ that KEFI  making such rapid progress since the placing.

Alvarez repeated a ‘Speculative Buy’ recommendation for the company's shares.

“These high grade results are very interesting and deserve further investigation,” he said.

“The first phase of RC and diamond drilling is planned to commence in mid-late May and we are waiting the first results with anticipation.”

Afferro Mining (LON:AFF, TSE:AFF) confirmed today that it will complete the initial transaction to sell its Liberian asset.

The company said today it will receive US$55.25 million and a further US$9.75 million will be placed in escrow while the tax dispute is resolved.

In a note, City broker Fairfax said: "The closure of this sale, even if it means there is a withholding element of 15 per cent is good news for Afferro as it gives the company the funds it needs now to progress the Nkout project in the Cameroon which the company is targeting to complete a DFS on in H2 2014.

"For Afferro it is more important to determine the viability of the Nkout project including addressing infrastructure issues then it is to fight over the technicality of their tax position in Liberia before the deal closes."

Broker Investec today maintained its 'buy' stance on Alliance Pharma (LON:APH) and has a target price of 34 pence on the stock (current price: 29.25 pence).

In a note, the broker said: "Following a review of Alliance's preliminary results and its core products, we continue to believe that the market is inappropriately discounting Alliance considering both its good free cash flow generation and visibility of revenues."

The broker added that it believed upcoming headwinds to its brand  Nu-Seals, a coated aspirin tablet, should be offset by recent acquisitions and that management would continue to seek out earnings-enhancing deals for further value.

Thu, 05 Apr 2012 07:20:00 -0400
Broker Roundup Part 2 including BT, Condor Resources, Noricum Gold, Fusion IP and Lonrho Analysts at Credit Suisse said Faroe Petroleum's (LON:FPM) 2012 drilling programme could unlock reserves and lead to a rerating for the group’s shares.

Analyst Arpit Harbhajanka today initiated the bank’s coverage on the stock with an ‘outperform’ rating and a punchy 231p price target – which suggests the stock could rise some 36 per cent from the current price of 169p.

He calls Faroe a ‘full cycle oil and gas producer’. 

Harbhajanka says that through this year’s high risk high reward drill programme it offers ‘growth potential through the drill bit’.

The analyst reckons the programme could add around 126p to the value of each share. This is on top of the analyst’s risked NAV estimate of 231p for the stock.

Meanwhile, Carphone Warehouse (LON:CPW) has been downgraded to 'underweight' from 'equal weight' by  City heavyweight Morgan Stanley.

Analysts there see "substantial share price downside" and have also dropped the target price to 125 pence, from 175 pence.

In addition, Morgan said it does not expect the group's joint venture, Virgin Mobile France to be immune to recent industry developments and also says it is increasingly cautious about the retail business too.

Elsewhere, Citi has upgraded global speciality chemicals group Johnson Matthey (LON:JMAT) to a 'buy' and raised its target price to £30 from £18.50 to reflect Citi's changed earnings forecasts.

It says the firm will benefit from strong megatrends of clean energy, mobility and resource scarcity, and as a result sees Johnson as undervalued.

Turning to sugar and other ingredients, Tate & Lyall  has been upgraded to 'hold' from 'underperform' by Jefferies International, which has also upped its target price from the stock to 690 pence from 600 pence.

Meanwhile, broker Morgan Stanley has kept an ‘overweight’ rating on shares on telecoms giant BT (LON:BT.A) on the back of its recent pensions settlement and potential to improve its operational performance.

The US broker said the removal of the pension uncertainty adds 10p to its price target, which is now 280p, but it is Infinity, the company’s high-speed fibre broadband service, that is driving BT’s cash flow.

Turning to small caps, Austria- focused Noricum Gold (LON:NMG) said it was to carry out an extensive aerial geophysical programme of its licence area at Rotgülden  to accelerate a major drilling programme planned for this year.

House broker Fairfax said: "We expect the high grade nature of the gold veins in the Rotgulden area to show distinct potential for mining and for eventual mine development.  

"Much work needs to be done to reopen this former mining district but there is good potential within these licenses and the EM and later drilling work should start to reveal value within these prospects relatively quickly."

Condor Resources (LON:CNR) is ready to accelerate its exploration programme at the La India project in Nicaragua with two rigs now on site. 

City broker Fairfax said of the news: "The management team is aiming to establish the potential for this project as an open pit and an underground operation – we await further results to validate this."

Elsewhere, intellectual property group Fusion IP (LON:FIP) said it expects to meet its profit targets this current year after an “excellent” first half.

Fusion posted a pre-tax loss of £1.7 million in the six months to January (January 2011: loss of £414,000), but said this deficit largely related to the timing differences in completing funding rounds for its stable of investments.

Broker Seymour Pierce remains buyers of the stock.

"We believe the company has moved into a new era where, not only are its portfolio companies continuing to demonstrate improved commercial opportunities, but its ability to deliver deals (the sale of Symcyp to Certara) has shown the model works and is one investors should embrace," said analyst Dr Mike Mitchell.

Meanwhile, Tertiary Minerals (LON:TYM) has commissioned Wardell Armstrong International to produce the technical and economic scoping study for its 100 per cent-owned Lassedalen fluorspar project in Norway.

Lassedalen lies 80 kilometres southwest of Oslo and hosts a JORC compliant underground-minable resource of 4 million tonnes grading 25 per cent fluorspar. 

Analyst at broker Seymour Pierce Asa Bridle rates the stock a 'buy' targeting a price of 31.5 pence.

He noted that the broker's current valuation for the Lassedalen project was based solely on the resource estimate, in contrast to its valuation for the company's Storuman project where the work to date allowed the broker to use net present value of 47 pence a share to give an overall value.

"By advancing Lassedalen to a similar point through completion of a scoping study, we will be able to revise our valuation of this project and the company as a whole accordingly," said the analyst.

Elsewhere, broker Panmure said in a note on Africa- focused conglomerate: "We continue to believe that the 2012 will be a year of significant profit growth and reiterate our Buy recommendation and 21p price target."

The firm announced it has started 2012 encouragingly with new business wins across all divisions.

The company today reported strong revenue and profit growth in 2011 as the firm sees rapid development in the emerging African market.


Wed, 04 Apr 2012 07:43:00 -0400
Broker Roundup Part 2 including Anglo Asian Mining, Gulfsands Petroleum, Diageo, Compass Group and Aureus Mining Merger and acquisition activity is expected from drinks giant Diageo (LON:DGE), Swiss bank UBS said today in a note.

It has an unchanged 'buy' rating on the stock and a new increased price target of 1700 pence - up from 1600 pence.

Analyst Melissa Earlam said that with Diageo’s net debt/EBITDA falling to 1.7 times in full year 2013, UBS saw M&A firmly on the agenda, with dividend growth increasing steadily.

She added that she expected local emerging brands to remain a focus, eg Latam, China, India and Africa.

Another City heavyweight Morgan Stanley has downgraded food service firm Compass Group (LON:CPG) to 'underweight'  from 'overweight' saying it was "time for a rest between courses".

"We think valuations now look fair to full, and the scope
for positive margin surprises may be shrinking given both are reinvesting more in new segments," said analyst Jamie Rollo.

Meanwhile, Deutsche bank has downgraded retailer Debenhams (LON:DEB) to 'hold' saying it preferred Next and ASOS, both of which it rates a 'buy'.

But it has upped its target price for the stock to 85 pence from 80 pence.

Debenhams trades on calendar year 2012 earnings of 8.1 times and after a significant re-rating, Deutsche expects the stock to pause.

"In our view, the main upside risk is a re-rating to reflect an improving consumer outlook, while the main downside is increased competitive intensity in the mid-market, it said in a note.

Elsewhere, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has looked at business services stocks today, saying the shift from recession to recovery in the economy had "significant" implications for stock picking.

The low growth and recessionary environment of the last few quarters favoured higher quality stocks but over the next 12 months, the bank expects growth to improve and the bias may shift to value or higher beta shares, it said.

As a result, it has upgraded Hays (LON:HAS)  to 'buy', while Bunzl (LON:BNZL) has been downgraded to 'underperform'.

In smaller caps, Anglo Asian Mining (LON:AAZ) announced a major milestone this morning - having delineated more than 1 million ounces of measured and indicated gold at Azerbaijan's first operating gold and copper mine

City broker Fairfax, today initiated coverage on the stock with a 72 pence-a-share price target.

Analyst John Meyer highlighted that the use of the agitation leach process should raise gold recovery rates to more than 90 per cent, with silver to more than 93 per cent and copper, to over 85 per cent.

"The new JORC resource is significantly beyond our previous estimation and indicates to us that the Gedabek gold mine resource should easily extend to over 1.5 million ounces of gold and 2moz gold equivalent by the time of the next JORC resource update," he added.

"We look forward to a new ‘reserve figure in the next few months."

Elsewhere, Gulfsands Petroleum (LON:GPX) today said it was looking for a ‘fast track’ opportunity to build another non-Syrian based business unit.

The firm said that it intends to maintain its presence in Syria to preserve value for shareholders and protect its legal rights over the assets there.

Gulfsands has sufficient cash to meet its objectives for the short to medium term,” Seymour Pierce analyst Dougie Youngson said in a note to clients.

“This also presents an attractive proposition for any potential takeover of the company, with current ongoing rumours of a Chinese bidder.

“The company has stated that it will have effectively disposed of all of its Gulf of Mexico assets in 1H2012 which will result in additional cash for the company.”

City broker Fairfax issued a note on Aureus Mining (LON: AUE, TSE:AUE) today after latest drill results from the New Liberty gold prospect in Liberia showed no gaps between identified deposits and also the potential for an underground mine.

The broker said: "These look like good grades for the project and also confirm the continuity of the ore body within a gap area and at depth."

Meanwhile, broker Investec reiterated its 'buy' rating for the shares and 141 pence price target.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 08:37:00 -0400
Broker Roundup Pt 2 including ZincOx Resources, Caledonia Mining, Stellar Diamonds and Kingfisher B&Q owner Kingfisher PLC (LON:KGF) came under the spotlight of analysts at  HSBC today.

They have upped their price target for the stock to 370 pence, from 310 pence previously, and say the group has "upside" potential regardless of the macro outlook.

Recently, the home improvements company announced pre-tax profits of nearly £800 million and an improvement in turnover of 3.6 per cent,  largely thanks to French depots.

Long term, the company has strategic upside, they say, and concerns over French DIY spending are overdone, it reckons.

HSBC maintains its 'overweight' stance on the stock.

Meanwhile, the banking giant also issued a note on high street retailer Next (LON:NXT) today, also maintaining its "overweight' rating on the stock and upping the price target.

The target for the shares rises to 3,520 pence, from 3,090 pence.

Elsewhere, FTSE 250 materials firm Cookson (LON:CKSN) came under scrutiny from analysts at Investec, which rates the shares a 'buy'.

It comes after the Sunday Times suggested the firm was planning to spin off its electronics division and float it as a standalone on the LSE.

Analyst Michael Blogg noted: "Wide press coverage of a potential break-up suggests that Cookson's management is contemplating this step.

"We agree that it would eliminate the conglomerate discount and potentially allow the performance materials (formerly Electronics) segment to be rated against the higher-multiple
Electronic & Electrical Equipment sector.

"We think an uplift of 25 per cent or more could result from this exercise. For now, we retain our 780p target price (based on a 15 per cent discount to the 2013E PER of the Industrial Engineering sector)."

Turning to the oil sector, shares in Rockhopper Exploration (LON:RKH) are set for a number of boosts in the coming month, according to French investment bank SocGen.

Analyst David Mirzai says that despite the political ‘noise’ coming from Argentine president Cristina Kirchner’s ‘megaphone’ diplomacy the Falkland focused oil firm will have a busy April.

"Once the political ‘crescendo’ has been spent, we expect the next month to provide potential positive catalysts for the stock," said Mirzai.

The analyst believes these catalysts will come in the form of an updated independent reserves report, a potential update on the data room and farm-out process and, thirdly, exploration drilling results from other Falkland oil exploration (being carried out by Borders & Southern).

Mirzai, who rates the stock as a ‘buy’ with a 450p price target, says that Rockhopper’s share price carries a significant discount to the economic value of the Sea Lion discovery.

In mining, Uranium Resources (LON:URA) reported further positive results from the ongoing "transformational" 2012 drilling campaign at its flagship Mtonya project in Tanzania.

Broker Ambrian Capital, which currently has a ‘speculative buy’ recommendation on the stock, said today’s results provided further evidence of the company’s geological model.

Fellow broker WH Ireland reckons the project could potentially be company making, if it proves to be similar to Uranium One’s Nyota deposit, which is also located in Tanzania.

In other broker coverage, ZincOx Resources (LON:ZOX) is looking forward to starting production from its first zinc recycling plant within the next two weeks.

The plant is in the final stages of commissioning, the firm said today.

Peel Hunt commented in a note: "There is a slight two week delay to KRP1 before final commissioning. This makes little difference to ZincOx’s long-term potentially very profitable global position in the zinc recycling industry.

"Post hot commissioning we expect a gradual ramp up to full production, with a successful outcome only partially priced into the shares."

It rates ZincOx a 'buy' with a target price of 126 pence.

Elsewhere, Daniel Stewart also rates the stock a 'buy' and targets a price of 139 pence.

Cannacord Genuity issued a note on miner Caledonia Mining (LON:CMCL, TSE:CAL) after the company said it more than doubled gold production at the Blanket mine in Zimbabwe in its 2011 results.

Improved operations and economics led to a significant decrease in costs. In 2011, the cash costs were US$581 per ounce compared to US$751 the previous year, it said.

"With the Blanket mine now running above the 10,000 ounce per quarter target and the company reaching an agreement on the 51 per cent indigenisation of the Blanket mine, the company has cleared the main risks in a difficult environment and is now well positioned for the next phase of growth."

It rates the stock a 'buy' targeting a price of 16 pence.

"The upcoming catalysts for Caledonia include the Q1 production update and the implementation of the indigenisation agreement, both in Q2 2012," it added.

Also in mining, but diamonds, not gold, Stellar Diamonds (LON:STEL) were lifted today after the group reported a significant maiden resource for the Droujba kimberlite pipe in Guinea.

The JORC compliant study put the Droujba resource at 2.474 million carats in the inferred category, with a grade of 70 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht).

Broker Northland noted that this maiden resource for Droujba was another encouraging milestone adding to the recent JORC resource announced for Tongo.

"Both announcements are evidence of successful delivery against expectations, with the projects delivered on time and within budget, said analyst Dr Ryan Long.

"In light of the maiden resource at both Tongo and Droujba, our 15.1p price target is under review," added the analyst, which rates the stock a 'buy'.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 08:27:00 -0400
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