Astaire Securities this morning gave the nod to news from Tower Resources (LON:TRP) that the oil and gas explorer had got a 3D seismic survey underway on its acreage in Namibia, with the broker estimating that drilling could commence in early 2012. Tower also reported the conclusions of an independent technical report which has looked at historic seismic and well data to calculate net risked potential resources of 170mmboe with an expected monetary value of US$696m. Elsewhere, Astaire offered mixed views on communication technologies group Vislink Plc (LON:VLK), which said that first half trading had seen revenues fall. Despite making “considerable strides” in sorting out the business over the past 18 months with a reorganisation into four divisions, Astaire said the management still faced subdued short-term demand in its markets.
Fox-Davies Capital maintained a “buy” rating at Circle Oil (LON:COP) following yesterday’s announcement that the that the Al Amir SE-6X down-dip flank appraisal well had successfully tested a hydrocarbon bearing interval. The broker described this as “excellent news”, claiming that the Al Amir SE field was now clearly larger than expected and that the forthcoming testing of the Kareem sands would lead to an increase in ultimate recoverable resources.
Staying with oil and gas, Westhouse Securities highlighted plans by Ithaca Energy Inc (LON:IAE) to raise $150m which, combined with a new Bank of Scotland facility, is intended to finance all its projects through to first production. The company’s focus is to develop fields in the Greater Stella Area in the UKCS. Westhouse said the move was “clearly good news” continued to rate the shares a “buy”
Turning to BP (LON:BP.), Bill McNamara at Charles Stanley said the stock had been rallying hard since landing at 303p at the end of last month and the fact that yesterday’s 16.5p advance was driven by rising volumes reinforced the view that there could still be scope for further gains in the short to medium term.
Evolution Securities said that a new retail price plan by BT Group (LON:BT.A) for Sky Sports 1&2 was a loss leader as it prepares to up-sell Next Generation Access (NGA) services to its customer base in the medium term. It reckons BT is set to generate positive incremental returns for customers regained from LLU (local loop unbundling) operators and Virgin Media (LON:VMED), but will lose money on cross-selling to existing customers. The broker maintained a “buy” for BT despite the response by British Sky Broadcasting Group (LON:BSY) to raise retail (and wholesale) prices.
Elsewhere, Evo retained a “buy” advisory for Hays (LON:HAS) on news that the group was well placed in the on-going recruitment recovery, with organic year on year growth in net fees of 8% during the fourth quarter. However, it urged a “reduce” at asset manager Henderson Group (LON:HGG) despite profit guidance for H1 2010 being slightly ahead of consensus expectations. Market volatility continues to be a concern, leaving the broker to hold fire until Henderson reports its H1 results on August 18. In the small and mid-caps, Evo recommended investors “buy” Circle Oil (LON:COP) and Sylvania Resources Ltd (LON:SLV) but hold Vislink Plc (LON:VLK) .
Finally, Mirabaud initiated coverage of Equatorial Palm Oil (LON:PAL) with a “buy” recommendation, citing the company’s first-mover advantage that secured it a substantial land bank in Liberia, with scope for expansion on a scale comparable with its London-listed peers. Mirabaud noted that funding challenges remain in the medium term but that the company was well-placed to overcome these.
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