STOCKS NEWS EUROPE-Nomura upgrade lifts insurer Hiscox

Wed Feb 5, 2014 5:57am EST

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British insurer Hiscox's shares rise about 4 percent after brokerage Nomura upgrades the stock by two notches to "buy" as it expects European insurers to see strong share price performances ahead of earnings.

"We expect strong results from all companies (European insurers), and despite the headwinds from lower rates in the key reinsurance lines, expect companies to give an optimistic outlook on some of their differentiated business lines," Nomura International analyst Fahad Changazi writes in a note.

Changazi expects the company to declare a special dividend of 25 pence and raises his price target on the stock to 568 pence from 555 pence.

Shares in Hiscox, which provides insurance to cover kidnappings to fine art, vintage cars and other assets of wealthy individuals and families, were trading at 519 pence at 1048 GMT. The stock is one of the top FTSE-250 percentage gainers.

Nomura also cuts its rating on property and casualty insurer Lancashire Holdings Ltd to "reduce" from "neutral". The brokerage also raises its price target on rival insurer Beazley to 292 pence from 225 pence.

Lancashire's stock was down 1.5 percent, whereas shares in Beazley are largely unchanged at 1048 GMT.

Reuters messaging rm://esha.vaish.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net

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