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LONDON -- Just a week ago, following a broker upgrade, I noted here that the shares of 1 billion pound AIM-listed gold miner Centamin (LSE: CEY.L ) had proved a popular pick with the private clients of TD Direct Investing, having risen by 60% since the summer.
Oops. As I write, the shares are down 43%, in the wake of media reports that an Egyptian court has canceled the firm's flagship mining concession in the country's Eastern Desert. The shares were soon suspended, but not before the broker's clients had made the stock their single-most popular buy between the market's opening and noon.
For its part, Centamin has issued a statement firmly disputing the speculation, pointing out that no written judgement has been given, and adding that normal mining operations are continuing.
Falling knife? Or a bargain for the brave? Time will tell. But in the meantime, things are looking up at Premier Foods (LSE: PFD.L ) , also up strongly since the summer as new chief executive Michael Clarke has focused the debt-laden group on a handful of key brands, and begun flogging off the remainder.
A bullish interview in the Sunday Times over the weekend set the scene, and today comes news of yet another disposal -- the Branston pickles business, to Japanese group Mizkan, to which it sold its Sarson's, Hayward's and Dufrais brands back in July.
Pointing out that the 92 million pound deal represented 1.4 times sales, and 7.9 times EBITDA, brokers Panmure Gordon reckoned that Clarke had got a better price than with previous disposals. Critically, the broker noted, having committed to its bankers to bring in 330 million pounds in disposals, the company has now sold off 370 million pounds. Up 5% to 107 pence as I write, the share was the sixth-most popular buy by TD Direct's private clients this morning.
Thirdly, perennial high-yield favorite Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L ) (Nasdaq: VOD ) was in also demand, being the broker's private clients' seventh-most popular pick between the market's opening and noon. Broker views of the business are mixed, with some preferring the seemingly stronger dividends on offer at rival BT Group, but a forecast yield of 7.5% on a P/E of 10.3 would seem to leave a reasonable margin of safety.
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