STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-Citi raises Big C Supercenter price target

Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:45am EDT

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Citi Research raised its price target on retailer Big C Supercenter Pcl to 264 baht from 224 baht following the broker's earnings upgrade that reflected strong sales and well-managed costs.

Big C shares were up 1.41 percent at 216 baht. The broader benchmark SET index was up 0.39 percent.

Last week, Big C reported same-store sales growth of 2.4 percent for the first quarter and quarterly sales of 28.4 billion baht ($993 million), up 6.6 percent year-on-year, Citi said in a report.

"Resilient margin and well-managed SG&A (despite rising minimum wages policy), should keep net profit in-line with our estimates," the broker said of its first-quarter earnings forecast.

Citi raised its 2013-15 earnings forecasts by 1.7-4.8 percent. Big C's current valuation was attractive, with a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 23 times versus the sector's 35 times, it said.

Citi maintained its 'buy' rating on the stock.

Big C shares had risen 3.9 percent so far this year, lagging a 12.4 percent gain of other commerce shares.

1544 (0844 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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11:20 STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-Nomura cuts Bank of Ayudhya to 'neutral' on Q1 results

Nomura Equity Research downgraded Bank of Ayudhya Pcl BAY.BK to 'neutral' from 'buy' and lowered its price target to 36 baht from 39 after the bank reported weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings due to slower growth in retail and SME loans.

Bank of Ayudhya shares were up 1.5 percent at 33.5 baht, with a year-to-date gain of 3.1 percent, underperforming the banking subindex's .SETB 10.8 percent rise.

Nomura said it cut earnings forecasts by 9 percent in 2013 and 12 percent in 2014, reflecting lower margins, higher costs and a higher provision structure.

"After improving significantly during 2012, our concern is that BAY's return on assets (ROA) is capped at 1.5 percent from 2013-15F after rising from 1 percent since 2011," it said.

For the bank's earnings statement, click (Full Story)

1114 (0414 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; Editing by Anand Basu)

($1 = 28.615 baht)

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