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Italian Stocks Advance; Azimut, Fiat, Parmalat, Popolare, Prysmian Active

Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB Index gained 45.66, or 0.2 percent, to 19,826.83 in Milan. The following stocks were among the most active on the Italian market today.

Astaldi SpA (AST IM) dropped 24.5 cents, or 5.2 percent, to 4.51 euros. A possible package of spending cuts to reduce Italy’s budget deficit may affect public projects, including a bridge linking the island of Sicily to the mainland, Corriere della Sera reported, without saying where it got the information. Impregilo SpA (IPG IM) retreated 5.35 cents, or 2.6 percent, to 2 euros.

Azimut Holding SpA (AZM IM), Italy’s largest independent fund manager, dropped 22 cents, or 2.9 percent, to 7.27 euros, the lowest since July last year, as the Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.2 percent, extending losses of 3.4 percent on May 14.

Banco Popolare Scrl (BP IM) surged the most in a week, rising 31.5 cents, or 7.6 percent, to 4.47 euros. The lender said May 14 that first-quarter net income fell to 77.1 million euros from 218.6 million euros a year earlier. That compares with the 45.8 million-euro average estimate of nine analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded the stock to “outperform” from “underperform” due to “a combination of attractive valuation, improving profitability trends and subsiding risks.”

Separately, Macquarie Group Ltd. lifted its recommendation to “neutral” from “underperform.”

Fiat SpA (F IM) fell 26.5 cents, or 3 percent, to 8.73 euros, extending losses of 5.5 percent on May 14. European car sales fell 6.9 percent in April, led by drops at Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said.

Geox SpA (GEO IM) dropped 26.5 cents, or 6 percent, to 4.14 euros, the lowest since February of last year. The shoemaker was downgraded to “sell” at Gruppo Banca Leonardo, Bryan Garnier & Co. Ltd, and Berenberg Bank, while Deutsche Bank AG and Equita Sim SpA lowered their recommendations to “hold” and “reduce,” respectively.

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP IM) rose 2.5 cents, or 1.2 percent, to 2.2 euros, snapping a two-session decline. Macquarie Group upgraded Italy’s second-biggest bank to “outperform” from “neutral” as the brokerage is “now comfortable with the net interest income trend.”

Parmalat SpA (PLT IM) gained for the first time in three sessions, rising 4.2 cents, or 2.2 percent, to 1.94 euros. Cheuvreux, which kept the stock on its “selected list,” said in a note that Italy’s biggest dairy company posted first- quarter results “a touch better than expected.”

Pirelli & C. SpA (PC IM) declined 0.65 cents, or 1.5 percent, to 44.1 cents. Equita Sim SpA trimmed the weighting of Europe’s third-largest tiremaker in its main portfolio by 100 basis points, citing the stock’s “strong” outperformance.

Prysmian SpA (PRY IM), the world’s second-biggest cable maker, fell 31 cents, or 2.7 percent, to 11.29 euros. UniCredit Research lowered its price projection to 12.5 euros from 13.6 euros as the brokerage expects 2010 results to be “below 2009 numbers.” Mediobanca Securities and Centrobanca trimmed their price estimates to 11 euros from 14 euros, respectively.

Unione di Banche Italiane SCPA (UBI IM) declined 14.5 cents, or 1.9 percent, to 7.63 euros, a third straight loss. Societe Generale SA and Credit Suisse Group AG downgraded the lender to “hold” from “buy” and to “underperform” from “neutral,” respectively. Separately, Gruppo Banca Leonardo lifted its recommendation to “buy” from “underweight,” while trimming its price estimate to 9.8 euros from 10.9 euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Francesca Cinelli in Milan at fcinelli@bloomberg.net

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