By Chris Shaw
The past week has been fairly evenly balanced in terms of ratings changes by the eight brokers in the FNArena database, with seven ratings upgraded and ten downgraded during the period. Total Buy ratings now stand at 44.64%.
Among the upgrades were two resource plays, Atlas Iron (AGO) and Regis Resources ((RRL)). Atlas was upgraded by UBS to Neutral from Sell, as despite the weaker iron ore price the broker suggests Atlas has enough liquidity to meet its capex, dividend and tax requirements in FY13. Recent share price weakness has improved the value on offer enough for UBS to upgrade.
For Regis Resources, full year earnings showed a strengthening of the group's balance sheet, while Deutsche continues to see value as production increases from the combination of the Moolart Well and Garden Well projects and dividends from the company come closer to reality. Deutsche has lifted its rating to Buy from Hold, while also lifting its price target on the stock.
Among the industrials, UBS upgraded Breville Group ((BRG)) to Buy from Neutral given the expectation the company can continue to grow its share of the US market. Breville's profit result prompted changes to earnings forecasts and the result was an increase in UBS's price target for the stock.
While forecasting lower average income growth in the office sector in FY13, JP Morgan continues to like the quality of Dexus's ((DXS)) portfolio, while the broker also sees scope for an increase in payout ratios in coming years. This is enough for an upgrade to a Neutral rating from Underweight previously.
Sigma Pharmaceuticals ((SIP)) delivered a better interim profit result than Macquarie had forecast, the result being increases to estimates in coming years. Macquarie's price target increased as well and on valuation grounds the broker has upgraded to a Neutral rating from Sell.
Deutsche Bank upgraded both Leighton Holdings ((LEI)) and Myer ((MYR)) to Buy ratings this week, in both cases from Hold previously. For Leighton, Deutsche suggests the market is pricing in too much risk, particularly given the company is primarily exposed to low cost mines and committed LNG projects within its resource sector activities. There are also some potential balance sheet positives such as a sale of NextGen, which is enough to justify a more positive view at current share price levels.
With respect to Myer, an improvement in gross margin was the highlight of the full year profit result in Deutsche's view. Top line growth continues to look difficult to achieve but the stock offers an attractive yield and some longer-term value at current levels in the broker's view, which supports the upgrade in rating.
On the downgrade side of the ledger UBS has cut its rating on Ansell ((ANN)) to Sell from Neutral, the change something of a relative valuation call given the company is seen to have less defensive earnings than others in the sector. The downgrade in rating comes despite an increase in price target.
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