Here’s our weekly round-up of how the experts view the shares in the news this week.

1. Centrica – HOLD

Symbol: CAN.L

Index: FTSE 100

Centrica share price (Image: Google)

Shares in Centrica, which owns British Gas, fell sharply on plans to cap energy prices that were unveiled by Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party.

This hasn’t helped the company, whose shares have been underperforming for a number of years, points out Helal Miah, investment analyst at The Share Centre.

He attributes this to a combination of intense competition in the industry and the fact Centrica was particularly hit by the low oil price, due to its oil and gas operation.

“I’ve seen various estimates for the impact on Centrica of a cap on the standard variable tariff and one was in the region of £300 million so it would be hurt,” he said.

“However, given the dividend yield, investors willing to accept an element of risk could look at it as a good income play.”

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2. Sports Direct – BUY

Symbol: SPD.L

Index: FTSE 250

Sports Direct share price (Image: Google)

The sporting goods chain is focusing attention on the United States with the purchase of bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports in a $101 million (£79m) deal.

However, Jonathan Pritchard, analyst at Peel Hunt, has his reservations about such a move and has cooled his rating slightly from a strong ‘Buy’ to an ‘Add’.

While accepting that Sports Direct can one day add value to the US market with its discount approach, he maintains the timing of the move is extraordinary.

“It should be in lockdown for years, focusing on its core business,” he said.

“Clearly this isn’t the case and we are rapidly losing patience with the company’s lack of ability to stick to a strategy.”

3. Unilever – HOLD

Symbol: ULVR.L

Index: FTSE 100

Unilever share price (Image: Google)

The consumer goods giant has just acquired Sir Kensington, the US-based condiments brand.

All products are Non-GMO Project verified and do not use any artificial stabilisers or preservatives.

Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, Bloomberg reported that Unilever paid $140 million (£108m) for the company, according to Robert Waldschmidt, an analyst at Liberium.

“The deal affirms that Foods ex spreads will remain a part of Unilever’s plans,” he said.

“We expect Unilever will focus on brands that are in-line with trends toward organic and clean-label products and in-line with the group’s long-term sustainable living goal.”

4. GlaxoSmithKline – BUY

Symbol: GSK.L

Index: FTSE 100

GSK share price (Image: Google)

GlaxoSmithKline has cheered the market with a decent set of numbers for the first quarter as well as good prospects from past investments into its R&D pipeline.

Emma Walmsley, the new chief executive, will narrow the R&D focus to just the biggest opportunities, according to Helal Miah, investment analyst at The Share Centre.

He believes this is the right strategy for a giant of the pharmaceuticals sector and expects to see some R&D projects offloaded to rival firms.

“The company pays a solid dividend, generates strong cash flows and its defensive nature means it should be a part of most investment portfolios,” he said.

“However, generic competition will continue to hurt.”

5. St James’s Place – BUY

Symbol: STJ.L

Index: FTSE 100

St James's Place share price (Image: Google)

The wealth management business had some good news in its quarterly updated with news of another record period of strong inflows and client retention.

The business, which has total assets under management of almost £80 billion, revealed gross inflows for the quarter of £3.2 billion – a 32% increase on the same period last year.

Stuart Duncan, analyst at Peel Hunt, said it was another record period of new business generation, which continued the company’s inexorable growth.

“There is no change to the underlying drivers of this growth – the continuing demand for financial advice regardless of any political or macro uncertainties,” he said.

The information included in this article does not constitute regulated financial advice. You should seek out independent, professional financial advice before making an investment decision.

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