WH Ireland remained “neutral” on WS Atkins (LON:ATK) this morning despite the engineering group posting final results ahead of expectations. The broker said there could be scope to raise its earnings expectations for the current year by c.5% but added that further volume/pricing pressure remains, meaning that the shares are fully valued at present levels.

HB Markets advised investors to “sell” Amiad Filtration Systems (LON:AFS) on news that the water filtration group was set to miss half-year revenue targets. Elsewhere, it upgraded Maxima Hldgs Plc (LON:MXM) from “hold” to “buy” after the IT systems business confirmed that trading had improved throughout the year. HB pointed to a possible price improvement, with forecasts for next year currently around £5.1m with 14.2p EPS potentially rising.

Moving on, Charles Stanley picked up on BP (LON:BP.), which at 337p per share has crashed through its January 2003 low of 362p. The firm suggested additional civil liability suits on top of the new $20bn compensation fund would keep investors on edge. However, it said that a 31p rise this morning could suggest that selling pressures are abating and that if support firms up by the end of the week, there could be talk of a bottom forming to the embattled oil company’s price collapse.

The latest news from BP was enough to trigger an upgrade from Westhouse Securities from “hold” to “buy”, claiming the shares now appeared to be under valued. Elsewhere Westhouse advised a “hold” at Valiant Petroleum (LON:VPP) following the successful testing of the second Typalt exploration well in the North Sea. The broker said that while the latest work represented a good result for Valiant, more appraisal work was necessary and other North Sea explorers represented better value.

FinnCap retained a “buy” recommendation at BTG (LON:BGC), after Astrazeneca (LON:AZN), which holds a licence for BTG’s CytoFab sepsis treatment, confirmed that it was pressing ahead with further trials of the drug. The broker said this was a significant commitment by AstraZeneca to the programme and implied that the earlier Phase IIa study had provided positive results.

Finally, Evolution Securities upgraded rental equipment group Ashtead Group (LON:AHT) to “buy” on evidence in its full year results of a long-awaited recovery in its margins and…

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