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Huhtamaeki at Six-Year High After Danske Upgrade: Helsinki Mover

Huhtamaeki Oyj, a Finnish maker of consumer packaging, climbed to the highest level in six years as analysts at Danske Bank A/S recommended clients buy the shares on the prospect of better profit margins.

The stock rose as much as 3.6 percent to 14.54 euros, the biggest intraday jump since September and the highest price since January 2007. The shares were up 2.5 percent at 14.38 euros as of 1:29 p.m. in Helsinki trading. It was the best performance among stocks on the OMX Helsinki 25 index.

Huhtamaeki delivered a “surprisingly strong” fourth-quarter performance, especially in food services, analysts at Danske Bank A/S said in a note, upgrading the recommendation to buy from hold and raising the company’s 12-month price target to 16 euros from 14 euros. “We believe the company could offset slowing sales growth in 2013 with good margin improvement.”

Fourth-quarter earnings before interest and taxes, excluding certain non-recurring items, advanced to 35.2 million euros ($46.9 million) from 27.6 million euros a year earlier, the Espoo-based company said yesterday. The margin of Ebit on that basis to sales rose to 6.1 percent from 5.3 percent.

Ebit on that basis at the food service unit, which makes paper cups, take-away boxes and trays, climbed to 9.5 million euros from 3.8 million euros. Huhtamaeki’s total full-year sales rose 14 percent to 2.34 billion euros.

The company sees “a pretty good momentum” in consumer demand to start the year, Chief Executive Officer Jukka Moisio said in yesterday’s earnings call.

Huhtamaeki is “well on track” toward 2015 targets of 3 billion euros in sales and a 12 percent to 13 percent margin for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, Danske Bank said.

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