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Several brokers upgraded their ratings on Noble Group Ltd , citing an improved outlook after the Singapore-listed commodities company posted its first-quarter results.
Noble shares were down 1.3 percent at S$1.155 at 0316 GMT, slightly underperforming the broader Straits Times Index which lost 0.6 percent. Noble stock has gained more than 2 percent so far this year.
CIMB Research said a strong rebound in Noble's energy and metals, minerals and ores segment more than offset seasonal weakness from its agricultural division in its first quarter.
Noble will be a beneficiary of improving economies and new Chief Executive Yusuf Alireza brings a renewed focus on profits, CIMB added. It upgraded Noble to outperform from trading buy and raised its price target to S$1.42 from S$1.40.
DMG & Partners Securities said it was positive on Noble on the back of increased confidence in its earnings outlook, stronger performance from sugar with the April-December production cycle and potentially better crushing margins in China.
The broker upgraded Noble to buy from neutral and lifted its price target to S$1.60 from S$1.30.
DBS Vickers said Noble's agricultural harvest and further expansion of energy division was expected to boost profit sequentially. It raised its earnings estimates for Noble's 2012-2014 fiscal years by 3-4 percent on higher contributions from the mining and ores segment.
DBS Vickers upgraded Noble stock to buy from hold and raised its price target to S$1.40 from S$1.30.
Noble posted a 46 percent fall in first-quarter net profit on Thursday, dragged down by losses on supply chain assets.
1116 (0316 GMT)
(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Singapore; Editing by Chris Lewis; email@example.com)