Fox-Davies Capital this morning reiterated its “buy” recommendation for Minera Irl Ltd (LON:MIRL), the AIM listed mining group, following a review of its commodity and currency forecasts, which now see gold prices stronger all the way out to 2014. The broker said the higher gold prices now being used have had a material impact on the target price at Minera, which has increased to £1.28/share. Elsewhere, the changed forecasts saw Fox-Davies retain “buy” recommendations for Highland Gold Mining (LON:HGM), Emed Mining Public Ltd (LON:EMED) and Discovery Metals Ltd (LON:DME) as well as upgrades for both Hochschild Mining Plc (LON:HOC) and Hambledon Mining (LON:HMB) to “buy” from “hold”.

Elsewhere, Astaire Securities cheered the latest results from IT assurance group Ncc Group (LON:NCC), which saw revenues rise by 15% to £15.3m and adjusted operating profits increase by 16% to £14.8m in 2009. It noted that organic growth had been consistently bolstered by acquisitions and further consolidation was planned. Astaire was upbeat on a “positive outlook” from NCC, which it said continued to demonstrate good growth with a broadly based customer base and a range of testing and assurance services that offer good revenue visibility and are typically non-discretionary.

Evolution Securities maintained its “add” recommendation for Premier Oil (LON:PMO) and its “buy” advisory for Nautical Petroleum (LON:NPE) on the back of news this morning of a reserves upgrade on the Catcher discovery in the North Sea following the latest drilling work there. Premier holds a 35% interest in the licence while Nautical holds 15%. Moving on, Evo downgraded Workspace Group Plc (LON:WKP) to “neutral” from “add” claiming that despite the company’s earnings growth potential, there was better value elsewhere, in both the large-cap REITs and the operationally leveraged self-storage companies. Finally, Evo urged a “buy” at Cluff Gold Plc (LON:CLF), citing the mining group’s latest scoping study, which it said had demonstrated the robustness of its Baomahun project in Sierra Leone. With only 3km of the 12km prospective geophysical trend drilled to date, considerable exploration potential still remains, it said.

Returning to that news about the Catcher discovery this morning, Westhouse Securities upgraded the licence operator and 15% stake holder Encore Oil (LON:EO.) to…

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