German stocks were little changed as investors weighed equity valuations after the benchmark DAX Index rose for four straight days to a record.
Beiersdorf AG added 1.7 percent after the maker of Nivea skin cream reported its strongest annual sales growth in five years. Henkel AG & Co KGaA advanced 1 percent after U.S. peer H.B. Fuller Co. posted quarterly sales that exceeded analysts’ estimates. MTU Aero Engines AG slipped as Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. recommended that investors sell the stock.
The DAX Index lost 0.2 percent to 9,717.71 at the close of trading in Frankfurt. The benchmark gauge has climbed 3.2 percent since Jan. 9, and is trading at 13.4 times its members’ projected earnings, more than the 11.8 times average multiple of the past five years, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. The broader HDAX Index slipped 0.1 percent today, after also closing at its highest level since inception yesterday.
“Valuations have been normalized, so you will now need markets to be underpinned by capital spending and by progression in the evolution of companies’ profits,” said Franck Nicolas, head of global allocation at Natixis Asset Management in Paris, which oversees 619 billion euros ($843 billion). “The outlook for stocks is therefore a bit more limited but there is still potential for 2014. We still favor stocks and taking a risk-on stance in portfolios.”
Annual positive earnings for companies listed on the DAX probably slipped 0.3 percent last year, and may gain 8.8 percent in 2014, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. SAP AG, Siemens AG, and Deutsche Bank AG will report financial results this month. The volume of shares changing hands in DAX-listed companies today was 15 percent greater than the average of the last 30 days.
In the U.S., a Labor Department report showed today that jobless claims decreased by 2,000 to 326,000 in the week ended Jan. 11, the fewest since the end of November, from a revised 328,000 in the prior period. The median forecast of 51 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 328,000.
Beiersdorf added 1.7 percent to 76.65 euros, extending its highest price in at least 18 years. Sales, excluding acquisitions, disposals and currency shifts, rose 7.2 percent last year, the Hamburg-based company said. That was the strongest growth since 2008, when sales on that basis rose 7.5 percent. The median estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 7 percent gain.
Henkel, which will report 2013 results on Feb. 20, climbed 1 percent to 83.45 euros. H.B. Fuller said late yesterday that net sales rose 4 percent to $533.5 million in the three months to Nov. 30, more than the $528.3 million analysts had projected. A gauge of chemical industry-related companies was among the best performers of the 19 groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Kloeckner & Co SE increased 3.7 percent to 11.13 euros, its highest price since March, as Hauck & Aufhaeuser recommended investors buy shares in the steel trader.
ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s biggest steelmaker, advanced 0.9 percent to 18.70 euros.
Commerzbank AG and Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lenders, fell 2 percent to 13.49 euros and 1 percent to 39.57 euros, respectively. A gauge of banking shares posted the worst performance on the Stoxx 600.
MTU Aero Engines declined 0.6 percent to 67.20 euros, paring earlier losses of as much as 1.6 percent. Bernstein started coverage of the manufacturer with an underperform rating, similar to a sell recommendation. The brokerage set a 12-month price estimate of 61 euros per share.