Plus:Telefonica, Alitalia, Roche and other European companies making headlines Friday
From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope
REED ELSEVIER was up £0.13 to £5.80. Share rose on talk that Wolters Kluwer may bid for the company. However, sources are not ruling out talk of an asset swap with the Dutch publishing firm.
VODAFONE (VOD) was unchanged at £1.49. Key shareholder State Street told The Times newspaper that the company should consider abandoning its US$18 billion pursuit of the Indian group Hutchison Essar after the billionaire Hinduja brothers entered the auction.
ALSTOM was down €4.40 to €95.00. Citigroup downgraded the company to sell from hold but raised its target to €88 from €80. It said shares are priced for perfection, a bid is possible but not highly probable, and the BB ratio has peaked.
SUEZ (SZE) was up €0.07 to €39.82. Albert Frere and LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault are planning a bid for the company, the French weekly Marianne said. Frere and Arnault would combine the company's electricity and gas units with GDF and Electrabel and sell other businesses, according to the magazine.
MERCK was down €0.67 to €85.15. The company confirmed that its generics unit is up for grabs, but said it is not yet in talks with any potentially interested parties. It added that it plans a capital increase of €2 billion to €2.5 billion in the first quarter.
E.ON (EON) was down €1.04 to €100.65. Brussels raised the heat on energy companies. The FT wrote that Europe's biggest energy companies face an intensified crackdown by the EU competition commissioner following an inquiry into the sector that found evidence of collusion and other severe market failings.
NOKIA (NOK) was down €0.57 to €15.35. In its note to investors this morning, Credit Suisse stamped the company 's stock a trading sell, while downgrading it to a neutral recommendation from outperform and cutting its target price to NOK16 from NOK19. Motorola (MOT), the world's No. 2 maker of cell phones has lowered its forecast for quarterly results due to a shortfall at its mobile devices unit.
SCANIA was up SEK5.50 to SEK484.50. The executive committee of VW's supervisory board will reportedly study the planned truck alliance between MAN and the company next Thursday. Reminder: VW is the biggest shareholder in both groups.
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL (RDS) was down €0.33 to €26.08. UBS cut its target price to £20.50 from £ 21.50, as a result of changing US$ assumptions. It retained its buy rating.
NOVARTIS (NVS) was up CHF0.95 to CHF73.45. The company was mentioned as a possible buyer of German Merck's generic pharmaceutical division.
ROCHE was up CHF4.40 to CHF229.00 on a positive new study for Herceptin - the company 's breast cancer drug - in The Lancet.
ALITALIA was up €0.02 to €1.07. Finanza & Mercati wrote that AirFrance (AKH) is seeking partners from the SkyTeam alliance to join a possible bid for the company. A local broker noted that this would be to avoid the Italian govt. not accepting an offer made by AirFrance alone.
TELEFONICA (TEF) was up €0.23 to €16.91. The company estimated that its total global investment rose to €7.2 billion in 2006 vs. €5.358 billion in 2005.
CINTRA was down €0.18 to €12.27. Citigroup downgraded the company to hold from buy and ups target to €13.50 from €11.52. It said the downgrade followed the company's share price rise of 20% in the last three months.