On the Move: BASF, Euronext, ING, P&O

Plus news on Unilever, Club Med, STMicro, and other European stocks making headlines Wednesday

From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

France br> STM (FR) (STM ) was up €0.17 to €13.66. The company's CEO said he expects the global microchip market to grow 8% in 2006 and said the company aims to grow faster than that.

EURONEXT closed unchanged at €36.00. Shareholders pressured the company to drop its London SE bid and instead launch merger negotiations with Deutsche Boerse, its largest continental rival, the FT reported. The hedge fund Atticus Capital (owner of a 9% stake in the company and a 6.5% of DB) is against a merger with the LSE unless the company can pay a much lower price than that which is rumoured.

CLUB MED was up €0.25 to €38.20. The resort company sold four French village properties to Gecina for €225 million as part of its strategy to refinance and reduce debt.

Germany br> METRO AG was down €1.26 to €36.54. The company reported a 5.4% slide in third quarter EBITA to €299.4 million, worse than expected, and cut its growth forecast for 2005 sales to 4% from a previously stated 5-6% and EPS from 8-12% to mid-single digit. Reduction of tax loss carried forward will additionally reduce EPS, noted Cheuvreux, which downgraded the stock to underperform from outperform. DrKW downgraded the company to hold from add, trimming the target price to €37.8 from €44.

BASF (BF ) was down €0.81 to €59.19. The company posted a 13% rise in third quarter earnings before interest, tax and special items of €1.33 billion, in line with expectations. BASF said fourth quarter profit would slide due to earnings impairments of €120 due to production losses stemming from hurricanes in the US.

ALTANA was down €1.24 to €46.73. The company reported nine months operating profit up 12% year-over-year to €522 million, topping predictions, on sales 6% higher at &euro 2.36 billion. Altana expects full-year earnings growth to be in the upper single-digit percentage range and added that it wants to approach select buyers for its pharmaceutical business in coming months.

DEUTSCHE TELEKOM (DT ) was up €0.37 to €14.87. The CFO said DT would not make a counterbid for O2, The FT reported.

Italy br> B. POP. ITALIANA was up €0.26 to €6.49. The company is considering selling stakes worth €923 million in groups like Unipol and Hopa, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.

GEMINA was up €0.09 to €2.01. UBS (UBS ) initiated coverage with buy rating and €2.4 price target.

Netherlands br> ING GROEP (ING ) was up €0.23 to €24.33. The company announced 500 additional job cuts, on top of 450 redundancies already announced. It also plans to transfer 2200 employees to suppliers in outsourcing deals and contracts for about 1400 external employees will not be extended. Hence, the company expects cost savings to gradually increase, resulting in annual cost savings of about €190 million as of 2008. This came on top of annual cost reductions of €39 million and one-off costs of €57 million announced in July.

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL (NL) (RD ) was down €0.11 to €25.55. Workers at the company 's Pernis refinery in Rotterdam and the chemical facility at Moerjijk began strike on Monday. Union officials reportedly said they are considering expanding the workers' strike to Groningen if no pension deal is reached. The Independent newspaper suggested the company may be considering a move on BG. Wednesday the company traded an ex-dividend of €0.23.

UNILEVER NV (UN ) was up €0.40 to €59.10. CSFB said organic revenue growth has proved the key to the stock market's reaction. The broker expects +4.2% growth versus +3.3% in second quarter, driven by emerging markets. The broker reiterated its underperform rating.

Spain br> SOGECABLE was up €2.72 to €34.26... After a suspension, the company 's shares reopened for trading markedy higher as Prisa presented an offer for 20% of the company at €37 per share. The deal will raise Prisa's stake in the company to 44.5%. Prisa was down €0.74 to €14.50. Shares reopened lower after news of the offer.

Switzerland br> CIBA SC (CSB ) was up CHF1.50 to CHF75.55. The company topped nine month estimates reporting net sales of CHF5.532 billion, +5% (third quarter CHF1.88 billion); gross profit was CHF1.599 billion, down 5%; operating income fell 14% to CHF440 million; net income was CHF274 million down -18% (third quarter CHF92 million); basic, diluted EPS CHF4.20, -17%; adjusted EBITDA CHF754 million, -5%; adj EBITDA margin 13.6% vs.15.2%. These numbers were ahead of forecasts and the company said it is well on track with savings from Project Shape. However, it added that industry demand is still showing a mixed picture and with raw material costs remaining high it predicted that the rest of the year will remain demanding.

United Kingdom br> O2 was down £0.12 to £1.98 after Deutsche Telekom said it will not counterbid for the mobile phone company.

LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE was down £0.03 to £5.67. Euronext shareholders pressed the French company to abandon its pursuit of LSE and instead launch merger negotiations with Deutsche Boerse, the FT reported.

ROYAL & SUN ALLIANCE (RSA ) was unchanged at £1.01. Press reports noted that France's AXA could be interested in acquiring the company.

BBA GROUP was up £0.17 to £3.09. The company plans to spin-off its Fiberweb business. It argued that, as independent entities, Aviation Services and Fiberweb will be better placed to maximize shareholder value.

WILSON BOWDEN was up £0.32 to £11.74. The house building concern has been selected to develop £400 million of mixed use developments in Woolwich and a £225 million project in Barnsley, taking its total program of new contracts to more than £1 billion over the last three months.

Prepared by Zaida Espana, Michael Sanderson, Mariella Mongio, Alexander Wisch, Holly Cook, Emma Stevenson, Pawan Girglani, and Rocio Opazo-Aniotz (Standard & Poor's); Alex Halperin (BusinessWeek Online)

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