Italian Stocks: Impregilo, Intesa, L’Espresso, and Monte Paschi

Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB Index dropped 119.35, or 0.5 percent, to 23,059.03 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Milan, ending a three-day gain. The gauge increased 1.6 percent this week.

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

Astaldi SpA (AST IM) increased 2.7 percent to 5.81 euros, a fifth straight gain. Mediobanca Securities reiterated an “outperform” rating on Italy’s second-biggest builder, saying in a note that “our call on the stock is based on the undervaluation of the construction business together with the increasing visibility on concessions which could lead the market to gradually factor in the projected contribution of these activities to the share price.”

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA (BMPS IM) slid 1.2 percent to 1 euro, falling for the first time in four days. The lender isn’t working on any capital increase, a spokesman said by phone. The bank hasn’t hired any banks on a share sale, the spokesman added, commenting on a press report that banks are working on a possible capital increase by the Italian lender.

Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso SpA (ES IM) increased 3.7 percent to 1.9 euros, ending a three-day loss. Exane BNP Paribas lifted its price estimate on the publisher by 9 percent to 2.5 euros with an “outperform” rating unchanged.

Fiat SpA (F IM) fell 1.7 percent to 7.08 euros, declining for a second day this week. OAO Sollers, Russia’s second-biggest automaker, said it will create a joint venture with Ford Motor Co. to distribute cars in Russia after breaking off talks with Fiat SpA over a 2.4 billion-euro ($3.3 billion) deal.

Impregilo SpA (IPG IM) climbed 4.5 percent to 2.46 euros. The Italian government will seek a European Union waiver to directly award EU building contracts in the country’s south and boost its underdeveloped economy, Il Sole 24 Ore reported, citing Finance Ministry officials.

The government will include its request in a growth plan to be presented to the European Commission in April, the Milan-based newspaper said. Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti told reporters in Brussels on Feb. 15 that Italy would ask for the waiver, saying that it was difficult to apply free-market rules to the south and the central government should play a more direct role in infrastructure projects there.

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP IM), the country’s second-biggest bank, lost 1.9 percent to 2.53 euros. Evolution Securities downgraded the stock to “sell” from “buy,” highlighting that “the stock has largely outperformed on a year-to-date basis, reversing part of the 2010 underperformance.”

Saes Getters SpA (SG IM) retreated for a second day, losing 3.1 percent to 8.21 euros. The Italian maker of a key chemical used in televisions and computer monitors was downgraded to “neutral” from “outperform” at Intermonte Sim SpA.

Stefanel SpA (STEF IM) rose 1.4 percent to 54.65 euro cents, a first gain in three days. The clothing company completed the sale of its 50 percent stake in Noel International SA, the owner of retailer Nuance Group AG, to PAI Partners for 106 million euros ($147 million).

STMicroelectronics NV (STM IM) fell for the first time this week, losing 1 percent to 9.39 euros. The chipmaker is among the “least preferred stocks” in the European technology hardware industry at UBS AG.

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