Italian Stocks: Monte dei Paschi, Nice, Tod’s, and UniCredit

Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB Index fell for the first day this week, losing 298.31, or 1.4 percent, to 20,410.27 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Milan.

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

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA (BMPS IM) declined 3.7 percent to 86.55 euro cents, the biggest loss in more than five weeks.

“In the context of our north-south Europe divide strategy, which prefers northern banks over the periphery, we tend to be more constructive on Italy, which has a number of virtues,” Nomura Holdings Inc. said in a note today. “Italian banks may continue to deal with an unfriendly environment (low rates, increasing funding costs, high LLPs) and struggle to match the cost of capital.”

Banca Popolare di Milano Scrl (PMI IM) lost 2.8 percent to 2.75 euros. Banco Popolare SC (BP IM) fell 3.3 percent to 3.39 euros.

Geox SpA (GEO IM) gained 2.4 percent to 3.57 euros, the biggest increase in two weeks. The shares of the shoemaker rose above their 20-day moving average.

Mediaset SpA (MS IM) slid 1.3 percent to 4.58 euros after climbing 3.3 percent yesterday. Credit Suisse Group AG reiterated an “underperform” rating on the broadcaster owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, after surveying “30 marketing executives across Europe to get some visibility on the 2011 European advertising market and their views on structural trends.” The brokerage said that its survey “supports our positive stance on agencies and cautious view of broadcasters and print media.”

Nice SpA (NICE IM) advanced for the first day in five, rising 2.8 percent to 2.88 euros. Equita Sim SpA said in a note that the acquisition of 60 percent of FontanaArte, which operates in the lighting systems and furnishing accessories industry, allows Nice to “expand into a complementary sector and to further its strategic plan of developing integrated home design solutions.”

Tod’s SpA (TOD IM) sank 8.9 percent to 76.51 euros, the biggest loss since September 2001. Shares of the luxury-goods maker were sold at 76 euros apiece, said Mediobanca SpA, which managed the placement.

About 3.06 million shares, representing about 10 percent of the company, were sold on behalf of the Della Valle family.

Separately, Gruppo Banca Leonardo downgraded the stock to “underweight” from “buy.”

UniCredit SpA (UCG IM) dropped 4.2 percent to 1.63 euros, falling for a second day. Italy’s biggest bank was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” at Nomura and to “neutral” from “overweight” at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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