Market Report: Analyst calls on the Bible to back hopes for Barclays
The Square Mile tends to be more concerned with Mammon than spiritual matters. Yet yesterday the Bible was helping Barclays in the run-up to the release of its first-quarter results tomorrow, as Investec's banking guru Ian Gordon turned to the Old Testament for inspiration.
Ahead of the numbers, the analyst decided to quote Moses himself: "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance (Exodus 14:13)".
In his own words this time, Mr Gordon said although the City's expectations had recently risen sharply thanks to encouraging results from US banks, he still expected Barclays numbers to beat forecasts.
Specifically, the scribe predicted its Barclays Capital investment bank arm would post revenues for the period of £3.5bn – £140m higher than consensus. He also argued that the increased optimism of analysts has not been "adequately reflected" in the performance of the stock.
Whether by divine intervention or otherwise, Barclays ended up advancing 6.45p to 211p.
It is not the first time Mr Gordon has used the Good Book in relation to Barclays – "But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (Matthew 8:27)" was the passage he highlighted in February regarding the bank's boss, Bob Diamond.
Meanwhile, when appearing in front of the Treasury Select Committee last year, Mr Diamond was rather pointedly asked by MP John Mann why it was "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven?"
Following the sharp sell-off at the start of the week, the FTSE 100 bounced back by 43.92 points to 5,709.49 after successful bond auctions in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain went some way towards dampening concerns over the eurozone debt crisis, although economic data from the States was mixed.
With Man Group's share price having lost more than 60 per cent in less than seven months, UBS analyst Arnaud Giblat claimed those investors still left in the hedge fund giant would accept a takeover approach priced at 150p, despite the firm having moved above that level last month.
Mr Giblat argued there was a "substantial risk" of the group attracting an approach and that a 50 per cent premium to the current share price "would be sufficient to obtain shareholder approval".
With the analyst keeping his "buy" recommendation, Man shot up 4.45p to 97p, having closed on Monday at an 11-year low.
The commodities sector saw a rally, including Xstrata. The digger ticked up 20.5p to 1,149p after it was revealed Qatar's sovereign wealth fund had raised its interest again, and with the Gulf state reportedly a fan of the merger between the two, Glencore finished 7.2p stronger at 415.75p.
British Airways-owner IAG flew up by 5.9p to 168.5p on a rush of broker support. Credit Suisse raised its advice to "outperform", citing optimism on pricing during the summer, while at the same time Davy's analysts removed their "sell" rating.
The cigarette makers were among those in the red after Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced that it was time to take profits. Cutting their ratings on both Imperial Tobacco (27p lower at 2,491p) and British American Tobacco (56.5p lower at 3,157p) to "neutral", scribblers from the broker added that – in the wake of recent takeover bid talk – they did not expect the former would receive an approach "imminently".
The Footsie's wooden spoon ended up in the hands of Capita, with the outsourcer sliding 46.5p to 682.5p after raising $441m (£273.3m) through a placing of shares at 685p a pop. Boss Paul Pindar did not help by taking the opportunity to get rid of 400,000 of his shares, which netted him around £2.7m.
News of a share placement from Redrow was received rather better. The housebuilder advanced 9p to 126p on the FTSE 250 after saying that it would raise roughly £80m, thanks to the placing and an open offer which will be underwritten by the investment vehicle of chairman Steve Morgan, who could see his stake rise above 40 per cent.
Ophir Energy, which has recently been boosted by takeover speculation, spurted up 16p to 575p after its fellow Africa-focused driller Cove Energy agreed to an improved offer from Royal Dutch Shell (up 21p to 2,200.5p) With the new bid priced at 220p-a-share, Cove finished 10p stronger at 227p on Aim.
Small-cap pharma firm Vectura perked up 3.75p to 61.25p following encouraging results from the latest study on its QVA149 lung drug, which it is developing with Swiss giant Novartis.
At the same time, Aim-listed tiddler Summit rose 8.7 per cent to 3.12p after getting approval for trials to start on a muscular dystrophy treatment.
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