Brokers: ‘Hold’ is the height of positivity for City analysts

IAG, Dunelm, QinetiQ, ARM Holdings, Smith & Nephew, Victrex and Oxford Instruments are all in Thursday’s broker spotlight.

A move to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’ is the most positive upgrade the City could muster.

It possibly says something about the mood in the City that among all of Thursday’s upgrades, moves to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’ represent the height of positivity.

Cantor Fitzgerald’s upgrade of BA owner Intercontinental Airlines Group (LON:IAG) - to ‘hold’ - reflects the sort of lurking concern about broader economic forces that are making investors particularly tentative.

“IAG is strategically well positioned and is attractively valued. That said, its earnings are always vulnerable to a downturn in the global economy and business services sector,” said Cantor analyst Rob Byde.

Whilst specific to IAG, the comment could feasibly be transposed a large number of London listed stocks amid the recent New Year sell-off.

Home furnishing retailer Dunelm (LON:DNLM) has its price target lifted to 885p from 870p by Deutsche Bank, which repeated a ‘hold’ recommendation.

JP Morgan said it still rates defence tech firm QinetiQ (LON:QQ.) as ‘neutral’, though its target rises to 270p from 265p.

Tullow Oil (LON:TLW) sees Jefferies increase its target price to 166p from 140p, though it too goes no further than a ‘hold’.

Meanwhile, downgrades were apparently easier to come by.

Microchip maker ARM Holdings (LON:ARM) was cut to ‘underperform’ from ‘market perform’ by Bernstein.

Smith & Nephew (LON:SN.) dropped saw UBS drop its ‘buy’ in favour of a new ‘neutral’ rating.

Deutsche sliced 17.5% off its target price for polymer firm Victrex (LON:VCT), down to 1,650p from 2,000p - and its ‘hold’ recommendation was repeated.

Investec downgraded Oxford Instruments (LON:OXIG) to ‘sell’ from ‘hold’.

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