Telecom Italia leads European equities lower

Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:50am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 falls 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.4 pct

* Telecom Italia falls on uncertainty over unit spin-off

* Europe equities still attractively valued, says UBP

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - European shares edged down on Tuesday, slipping back after recovering from 2013 lows over the last two weeks, with Telecom Italia lagging due to uncertainty over a spinoff of a division.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down by 0.2 percent at 1,197.30 points in early session trading, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index declined by 0.4 percent to 2,676.31 points.

Telecom Italia was the worst performer on the FTSEurofirst, down 3.1 percent due to uncertainty over plans to spin off its fixed line network, traders said, after the company said it wanted favourable regulatory conditions before going ahead with any such deal.

The FTSEurofirst 300, which has risen around 6 percent since the start of 2013, had hit a 5-year high in late May of 1,258.09 points.

It then fell to a 2013 low of 1,111.11 points in late June on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve would scale back economic stimulus measures but has since recovered as central banks have sought to reassure that they will continue to support the global economy.

Terry Torrison, managing director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities, said investors might now look to book gains though the longer-term trend for European equities remained positive.

Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) fund manager Scott Meech said European equities had attractive valuations, citing supermarket chains Carrefour and Dia and Dutch electronics group Philips among his favoured picks.

Companies in the pan-European STOXX 600 index, which closed up 0.4 percent, are forecast to trade on an average price to earnings-per-share (P/E) ratio of 12.4 times for the next 12 months, according to the Thomson Reuters StarMine "smartestimate" which favours top-rated analysts.

This represents a discount to a similar P/E ratio of 14.5 times for the U.S S&P 500 index, according to StarMine.

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