Some things for M&S shareholders to think about. This is CSFB's verdict on the company's performance since Philip Green's abortive bid last year: "It is our view that Marks & Spencer's management team over-promised in the course of the bid defence, and is now under-delivering... Our forecasts for the current financial year are lower than they were before Stuart Rose and Paul Myners got up to speak at M&S's strategic review in July, where they promised pounds 250m of supply chain and cost savings...
"The share price has risen as the company's problems have worsened, suggesting that the market thinks a bid has become more probable as management credibility has eroded... We are not certain M&S wouldn't employ a `poison pill' defence or engage in a defensive merger to ensure its independence...
"Spring/summer ranges are shaping up disappointingly, and the pressure on M&S to deliver a winning autumn/winter range is palpable..."
Shore Capital's IT sector analyst, George O'Connor, went to the Travel Technology show at London's Olympia this week to look at Anite's new reservation system, @comRes. The software company's travel division is already performing strongly, in part thanks to @comRes, and O'Connor reported positively from the show: "Lots of footfall around the stand, staff reporting high levels of interest, and the tragic events in South East Asia not dampening the sector, but creating a shift towards other destinations." The product should be a source of positive news this year, he predicts. Buy.
TAYLOR NELSON SOFRES
Taylor Nelson Sofres operates in one of the fastest-growing sub-sectors of the media industry, and J P Morgan is tipping its shares. "Via a strategy of both organic and acquisition growth, most notably Sofres in 1997 and NFO in 2003, TNS has grown to be the second-largest market-research provider, by revenues, globally.
"The sub-sector remains fragmented, with just under 50 per cent of the global market outside the top 10 players. We expect the big to get bigger, and Taylor Nelson Sofres to be an active participant in this process."