Daily Mail

Analysts turn up the heat on BP over poor outlook

- By John Abiona

A DISAPPOINT­ING week showed little signs of improving after BP became the only oil major that analysts urged their clients to sell.

JP Morgan lowered its rating on the stock to ‘ underweigh­t’ from ‘neutral’ and reduced the target price to 550p from 615p.

It came a day after BP posted profits of £ 2.7bn in the three months to the end of September – a sharp drop on the £6.8bn recorded a year earlier.

The US investment bank said BP’s third-quarter profit miss was ‘substantia­l’. That meant the oil major, unlike its peers Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total, was the only one to have a ‘sell’, or equivalent, recommenda­tion. BP fell 1.6pc, or 8.2p, to 494.4p. The FTSE 100 rose 0.3pc, or 20.71 points, to 7342.43 and the FTSE 250 was up 0.6pc, or 102.84 points, to 17,185.89.

There was a double update from Vertu Motors. The car dealer tightened its grip over south-west England after it bought a business that has been trading for more than 90 years. It will now own Rowes, which has four outlets and is a major seller of Hondas.

The London-listed firm is now in charge of 34 sites in the region.

It also said its Companies House records have been ‘ falsely amended by a malicious actor’ to show that some directors resigned while two others were hired.

Vertu insisted that none of the changes had happened and was working to find out how the records were altered. Shares fell 0.3pc, or 0.2p, to 75.8p.

Smurfit Kappa welcomed signs that business was picking up. The paper and packaging firm said demand for boxes fell 2pc in the third quarter having declined 7pc in the first and 5pc in the second.

The company’s share rice rose 0.6pc, or 16p, to 2700p.

The firm behind National Express, Mobico, dipped by 1pc, or 0.6p to 61.9p after Berenberg cut its target price from 140p to 100p.

Weir Group, the mining technology firm, fell 0.47pc, or 8p, to 1699p after its orders fell 2pc in the three months to the end of September.

It came as it appointed its next finance boss, Brian Puffer, who will start no later than April, to replace John Heasley, who is moving to Anglo American.

Engineer John Wood hired a new finance boss. Arvind Balan, who held the same role at RollsRoyce’s civil aerospace business for the last two years. Shares rose 1.6pc, or 2.3p, to 144.2p.

AstraZenec­a has teamed up with the clinical- stage biotech company Cellectis to develop cell therapies for patients with cancer and rare diseases.

Its shares were up 0.8pc, or 86p, to 10,336p yesterday. Halfords jumped 2.9pc, or 5.8p, to 206.4p after the cycling and motor retailer agreed to sell a 5pc stake in its automotive software business to global mobility company Bridgeston­e for £2.5m.

Video game publisher Devolver Digital beefed up its business by buying its US peer System Era in a cash and share deal worth up to £33m. Shares were flat at 25.5p.

Sopheon took a slight knock a day after the British software firm looked set to be bought for £115m by a company backed by US private equity.

Shares, up 88pc on Tuesday, fell 2.2pc, or 20p, to 900p.

A weak set of results for Sys Group saw the IT services and cloud hosting provider sink into the red. The company made around £11m of revenue in the six months to the end of September, down slightly from £11.3m in the same period last year.

And profits of £1.6m fell short on the £1.7m that it pocketed the year before.

Sys Group slumped 11.2pc, or 5p, to 39.5p.

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