European Stocks Drop as Holcim, PostNL Fall on Earnings

European stocks fell, after this year’s biggest weekly rally, as investors weighed disappointing earnings from PostNL NV and Holcim Ltd.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.8 percent to 334.25 at the close of trading as Italian utilities declined. The Stoxx 600 gained 2.9 percent last week as the Bank of Japan unexpectedly boosted its stimulus. The benchmark measure has advanced 7.8 percent from this year’s low on Oct. 16 and trades at 15.5 times the projected earnings of its members, near the highest valuation since 2009.

“Markets are taking a small break from the strong rebound,” said Espen Furnes, who helps oversee $85 billion at Storebrand Asset Management in Oslo. “Investors are still cautious. The reporting season is the main topic for investors. Ryanair numbers were surprisingly strong. On the other hand, the PostNL numbers were weaker than expected, and shares are falling despite the company upholding full-year guidance. From now on, reactions will be more stock-specific.”

Holcim dropped 2.6 percent after the cement maker posted third-quarter net income and revenue that missed analysts’ projections as fluctuations in emerging-market currencies hurt results.

PostNL tumbled 13 percent to an almost 14-month low after reporting third-quarter net income of 12 million euros ($15 million), less than half the 26 million-euro estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Italian Utilities

Snam SpA slumped 11 percent and Terna Rete Elettrica Nazionale SpA lost 6.7 percent, pushing a gauge of European utilities to the worst performance among 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600. Mediobanca SpA cut its rating on Snam to an equivalent of sell and that of Terna to rating similar to hold.

Publicis Groupe SA fell 2.3 percent after the world’s third-largest advertising company agreed to buy Boston-based Sapient Corp. for $3.7 billion in an all-cash deal.

National benchmark indexes fell in 14 of the 18 western European markets today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slid 0.9 percent, France’s CAC 40 lost 0.9 percent, and Germany’s DAX declined 0.8 percent.

Ryanair Holdings Plc jumped 7.7 percent to 8.18 euros, its highest price since it sold shares to the public in 1997, after raising its full-year profit forecast. The discount airline said it expects net income of 750 million euros to 770 million euros for the 12 months through March 2015, at least 100 million euros more than it forecast previously.

Portugal Telecom SA advanced 4.1 percent after Altice SA made an $8.8 billion offer to buy Oi SA’s Portuguese telecommunications assets. A deal would unwind a merger between Portugal Telecom and Oi that has been marred by debt defaulted by a unit of Grupo Espirito Santo and a management change.

Ocado Group Plc jumped 10 percent to 274.3 pence. The online grocer rose for a fifth day, its longest winning streak in five months. Web-based take-away service provider Just Eat Plc today said business momentum remains strong.

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