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BP, Astra, NMC, Lloyds among Barclays' European top picks

By Oliver Haill

Date: Monday 19 Nov 2018

BP, Astra, NMC, Lloyds among Barclays' European top picks

(Sharecast News) - Although poor investor sentiment, "idiosyncratic risks" including Brexit, Italian and German politics, ECB and European parliamentary elections next year have weighed on European stock, Barclays expects to see some of the losses to be recouped into the year end, with 19 selected as "top picks".
Although the continent offers an "unexciting" fundamental backdrop as growth momentum is slowing, European stocks are down double digits from the year-to-date highs, have seen significant outflows and as a whole are being tipped by analysts as 'underweight', the bank's strategists "expect European equities to recoup some of the [year-to-date] losses into year-end".

While the uncertainty will not dissipate in a hurry, "a lot does appear to be in the price already", with Europe trading at near record-low P/E relative to the US.

They saw domestic drivers of activity as still "well-oriented", with financing conditions remaining favourable, fiscal policy becoming less restrictive, and unemployment is at cycle lows.

To play the equity strategists' positive view on European equities into year-end, bottom-up sector analysts offered up 19 stocks where they have the highest conviction within their individual sectors.

A sector 'overweight' ratings on energy is expressed this through "high conviction" 'overweight' recommendation for BP, which gets a 705p target price.

The strategy team are also positive on healthcare, with AstraZeneca and NMC Health two key 'overweights' for the sector teams, with target prices of 6,800p and 4,850p respectively.

Among UK picks in other sectors, Glencore was the choice among miners, with a 400p price target, admired as the world's biggest commodities marketing business and no iron production, with investor concern over asset quality "unwarranted".

Tesco, given a 280 target, has seen share price weakness after its first-half profit shortfall in Thailand and some less convincing sales data in the UK. Analyst believe "the core UK business may be performing more strongly than the market share data has suggested", with the dividend reintroduced and "the possibility of further cash returns" on the horizon.

In financials, analysts are positive on Lloyds (target price 90p) for expectations of cash returns over the coming few years, asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen (target 417p) is seen as discounted and it also has potential for continuing capital returns; while Prudential (target 2163p) "is the only genuine large-cap growth stock which is now trading below the sector multiple" and even if its growth outlook slows, with the proposed de-merger of the UK business in 2020 able to unlock more value.

Ferguson, the plumbing products giant, was singled out for the multi-year opportunity seen for its industry-leading US business to gain further market share in its core and adjacent markets, with the delivery of coming results key to sparking the potential "significant upside" to the share price. Target price was 6,700p.

Removed from the "top picks" list were Paddy Power Betfair, Ashtead, Weir and Ei Group.


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