European stock markets were down in the week from the 6th to the 10th of February 2012 (Milan -0.5%, London -0.8%, Paris -1.6%, Frankfurt -1.1%). Market sentiment was affected by the negotiations between European authorities and the Greek government concerning the austerity measures needed to obtain the €130bln aid package. Moreover, US consumer sentiment data disappointed: the benchmark index was down to 72.5 in mid February, compared with the end-of-January reading of 75 and expectations of 75.5. The index remains at historically low levels (before the current crisis, US consumer sentiment index was at approximately 87 points). The central bankers of England and Europe left benchmark indeces unchanged (0.5% and 1% respectively) and increased the purchase of Sterling denominated bonds (Bank of England).
The European Auto & Parts stock index was flat in the week. Chinese car market data was positive for German OEMs, which recorded year-on-year gains in January to the tune of 20% to 30%.
Pirelli shares were slightly up in the week (+0.1%), closing at € 7.49 with an average daily volume of ca. 3.5 million shares. According to HSBC’s latest report, Pirelli is best positioned to make up for a reduction in volumes in the industry thanks to its increasing exposure to the Premium segment, which benefits the mix. The broker confirms its view on the stock (Overweight, Target Price increased to €9 from €8.5) based on the company’s good fondamentals and the superior growth profile in the sector.
During the week, Michelin and Nokian published their FY 2011 results and guided for an improved profitability in 2012. According to Goldman Sachs, the read-across for Pirelli is positive, given its strong pricing power provided by the Premium positioning and the greater proportion, compared to its peers, of raw material cost absorbed in 2011 (3-monthslag vs 6-months).