Italian Stocks: Azimut, Pirelli, Popolare, Saipem, UniCredit

Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB Index rose to the highest level in more than a month, gaining 168.43, or 0.8 percent, to 21,001.62 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Milan.

The following stocks were among the most active in the Italian market today.

Azimut Holding SpA (AZM IM), Italy’s largest independent fund manager, advanced 2.5 percent to 7.30 euros as the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose to the highest level in more than four months after regulators reached a compromise over new capital rules for banks, while economic reports from China and Europe boosted confidence in the economic recovery.

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA (BMPS IM) surged 3.4 percent to 1.05 euros. Banking stocks advanced in Europe today after the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s main governing body agreed on new minimum levels of capital for the world’s banks.

“Minimum capital standards are lower than expected,” Credit Agricole Cheuvreux SA said in a note. The brokerage also noted that with regard to Banca Monte dei Paschi and Banco Popolare SC, “capital remains stretched but will meet new 2013 minimum requirements.”

Banca Popolare di Milano Scrl (PMI IM) jumped 3.5 percent to 3.75 euros. Banco Popolare (BP IM) soared 4 percent to 4.89 euros. Unione di Banche Italiane ScpA (UBI IM) increased 1.8 percent to 7.39 euros.

Fiat SpA (F IM) increased 1 percent to 10.22 euros, the stock’s fourth straight gain. Natixis Securities reiterated a “buy” rating on the Italian carmaker ahead of Sept. 16’s extraordinary general meeting to approve the spinoff of Fiat’s industrial activities and automotive businesses.

“This will mark a radical transformation of the Fiat group, enabling each of the new entities to develop its own strategy autonomously while drawing on its own strengths,” the brokerage said in a note.

Meridiana Fly SpA (MEF IM) rose 3.4 percent to 5.4 euro cents, ending a two-day loss. Chief Executive Officer Massimo Chieli expects to revamp the airline within two years by improving services, cutting costs and reorganizing the business, he told Il Sole 24 Ore in an interview published Sept. 11.

Pirelli & C. (PC IM) advanced for the fourth day, rising 1.9 percent to 5.75 euros. The company said on Sept. 10 it’s raising consumer and industrial tire prices in Europe. Tires for consumers will cost 4 percent more from Oct. 1, according to a stock-exchange statement. Tires for sale to industry will cost will cost as much as 6 percent more.

“The news is positive as it should allow Pirelli to compensate raw material price increases,” Gruppo Banca Leonardo wrote in a note.

Poltrona Frau SpA (PFG IM) ended a two-day loss, rising 2 percent to 78 euro cents. UniCredit Research lifted its price estimate on the furniture maker to 86 cents from 83 cents and kept a “hold” rating.

Saipem SpA (SPM IM) gained 1 percent to 28.12 euros, erasing its loss on Sept. 10. Deutsche Bank AG reiterated its preference for Europe’s largest oilfield-services provider compared with its peer Technip SA.

Telecom Italia SpA (TIT IM), Italy’s biggest phone company, lost 1.8 percent to 1.05 euros, the worst performance on the FTSE MIB Index, as the shares suffered from “some switching toward banking names today,” said Thomas Laschetti, a trader at Tullett Prebon Ltd. in London.

UniCredit SpA (UCG IM) increased 2.9 percent to 2.03 euros. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Ltd. lifted its stance on European banks to “overweight” from “neutral,” saying in a note that “the generous timelines around capital and funding rules have removed some of investors’ near-term fears, although dividend forecasts may be at risk and we could see some banks try to get to the ‘new normal’ quickly.” Italy’s biggest bank is among KBW’s “preferred plays.”

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