StockMarketWire.com - A generally strong trading update covering the Christmas period from wine seller Majestic Wines [LON:MJW] sparked City analysts into action, with like-for-like sales on the up but gross margin dipping slightly.

Investec, Liberum and Shore Capital all stuck with 'buy' recommendations, while Peel Hunt and Panmure Gordon reaffirmed 'hold' calls.

Upbeat analysts at Investec said: "A record performance through peak for Retail should in our view help reassure that the turnaround strategy remains on track.

"Although gross margins are softer than expected, this should help reinforce value credentials which should be beneficial over the medium term.

Liberum described the update as "strong" and said it provided confidence to leave its forecasts unchanged.

The broker also highlighted that the stock has underperformed the wider sector by almost 30 per cent in the last six months, which it says reflects the markets rather pessimistic view on FY outturn but reckons today's update should now help quell these concerns.

The update clearly reassured investors as the shares rose 23 pence or 7 per cent to a three month high of 347 pence.

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse has upgraded its recommendation on Costa Coffee and Premier Inn owner Whitbread [LON:WTB] to 'outperform' from 'neutral', which it says is given the improving macroeconomic environment, self-help measures being taken and the stock's inexpensive valuation.

Analysts increased their target to 4,550 pence per share (from 4,030 pence), implying 19 per cent potential upside.

The shares were up 4 per cent in early afternoon trading.

Elsewhere, budget airline Wizz Air [LON:WIZZ] had a turbulent landing after Barclays Capital downgraded the stock to 'equal weight' (from 'overweight'), believing fuel⁄US dollar headwinds and ambitious capacity expansion may make it challenging for the company to grow profits over the next twelve months.

The bank lowered its price target to 1,900 pence a share (from 1,950 pence), implying a rather modest 2.5 per cent potential upside.




At 2:24pm:

[LON:WINE] Majestic Wine PLC share price was +23p at 347p

[LON:WIZZ] Wizz Air Holdings Plc share price was -15.5p at 1827.5p

[LON:WTB] Whitbread PLC share price was +172p at 4037p



Story provided by StockMarketWire.com