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Broker spotlight, including Direct Line, Admiral, Zoopla and Intertek

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Broker heavyweight JP Morgan Cazenove has its sights on UK insurers and has dialled up Direct Line (LON:DLG) with an upgrade.

It moves the shares to 'overweight' from 'neutral' prevously, while the target is punted up to 349p from 240p.

"UK non-life insurers are facing a tough environment at the moment, with all the profit drivers (i.e. underwriting, investment income and ancillary income) under pressure," says analyst Ashik Musaddi.

But  any hint of rising pricing would be good for any pure play motor insurers such as Direct Line, Admiral, and Esure.

Admiral (LON:ADM) has its target driven upward to 1,388p from 1,134p while the rating remains 'underweight'.

Esure (LON:ESUR) is kept at 'overweight' with  the target lifted to 299p from 280p.

US broker gives property portal Zoopla (LON:ZPLA) a kick today, raising the target to 400p from 269p and repeating a 'buy'.

"In our view, the acquisition of uSwitch has raised the bar with respect to the services offered by property portals and enhanced the customer journey. We also believe that this enhanced offering will be very difficult for its competitors to replicate or match. We expect the acquisition to be significantly earnings enhancing," it said in a note.

On the downgrade front today, Deutsche is downbeat on Intertek (LON:ITRK), downgrading the stock to 'hold' from 'buy'. The target price is also reduced to 2654p from 2725p.

"We believe that there is a considerable opportunity for the incoming CEO, André Lacroix, to effect a degree of cultural change in the business (more focus on cross selling, possible changes to incentive structures) but that this may take sometime to effect and is now partly priced in," the broker said.


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