Market Report: City experts call time on Asos


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The Independent Online

It was once only a brave investor who’d bet against fashion favourite Asos, but yesterday two City experts called time on the stock.

Goldman Sachs and Exane BNP Paribas reduced their rating of the online fashion business to neutral and Asos tumbled 529p to 6,296p. Exane said its huge share price rise – nearly 150 per cent in the past year – is a reason to change view.

Exane warned that Asos’s logistics “poses risk from short-term disruption”, while Goldman’s said evidence that launches in China and Russia have been successful is “still sometime away”. Neither disliked the Asos investment case, but called for a “pause for breath”.

Last week’s gains on the London market were wiped out as traders reacted to weak manufacturing data from the US and poor  Chinese PMI figures. The FTSE 100 fell 53.05 points to 6,773.28.

The airline easyJet was one of the worst performers, down 71p to 1,672p, when it cautioned that the timing of Easter will fall outside its first half results and will affect figures.

Marks & Spencer was one of the best performers after a buy note from Exane BNP Paribas which gave it a 570p target price, and it ticked up 12.3p to 493.2p.

Huge rises in profit and sales in the third quarter for London Stock Exchange helped it up 8p to 1,862p.

Bookie Ladbrokes remained weak, continuing a poor run for the stock. Traders said rumours of a €2.5m (£2m) betting payout from bookies involving four horses with links to legendary punter Barney Curley had hurt a number of betting firms. Ladbrokes lost 3.9p to 150.7p.

Full-year profit from small-cap defence expert Chemring fell 25.2 per cent as it was hit by a slowdown in US purchases. But results were as expected and forward guidance remained unchanged so it recovered 1p to 241p.

Kurdistan oil explorers and producers were knocked by a note from Goldman Sachs and Liberum Capital on risks around taking oil out of the country. Liberum said timing of exports are uncertain and political risks remain so FTSE 250-listed Afren fell 7.4p to 154.6p, AIM-listed Gulf Keystone Petroleum edged back 1.5p to 176p and Genel Energy slipped 24p to 1,005p.