European shares pegged back by weak revenue updates

Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:53am EST

* FTSEurofirst 300 drops 0.3 percent

* Infineon and Vodafone both knocked by weak sales

* Norsk Hydro tumbles after placement

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - European shares edged lower on Tuesday, drifting away from near five-year highs, after a spate of disappointing company updates confirmed the trend of weak demand and poor revenues in the quarterly earnings season.

German chip maker Infineon fell 5 percent after flagging a revenue drop at all of its units for the current fiscal quarter, even though earnings came in above estimates.

Vodafone, the world's second-biggest mobile operator, dropped 0.6 percent after reporting a 4.9 percent drop in quarterly organic service revenue, hit by very weak trading in Europe.

Building materials company CRH managed a 4 percent gain, the top riser on the FTSEurofirst 300, after revenues rose, although the increase was based on demand from the United States as trading in Europe remained weak.

While half of the 80 percent of Stoxx Europe 600 companies that have reported so far have missed profit forecasts, nearly two-thirds have missed revenue forecasts, according to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine.

"Earnings in general have been OK, but it's not a blowout, and the revenues have been disappointing," said Mike Harris, partner at TJM Partners.

"I would be a seller of European equities in this zone, or at least not a buyer."

The pan-European FTSEurofirst was down 0.3 percent at 1,294.38 at 0840 GMT, 1.4 percent down from five-year highs hit last Thursday, but still up 16.5 percent since June.

The index has traded in a sideways range since giving away gains made on the back of an European Central Bank Rate cut last week, with public holidays in France and the United States on Monday hitting volumes.

"Some are getting nervous about the lack of volume so, if you've got any decent performance, you're probably not going to get much more upside from here," said Ioan Smith, managing director of KCG Europe.

"The risk/reward will be skewed to shutting up shop and booking those gains."

The top individual faller was Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro, down 5.7 percent after Brazilian miner Vale sold most of its stake in the group.