Stock Picker

Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley shares rose this week thanks to takeover rumours.

Following disappointing results, investors speculated that both lend-ers’ valuations now look tempting to predators such as Lloyds TSB.

But it’s important to note that we’ve been here before, particularly with A&L. shares went up thanks to the firm recording a 70% increase in profits. But competition remains fierce in the price comparison sector.

Shares in HBOS declined after its results were published last week. Despite a 3% rise in pre-tax profits and an increase of 18% in its final dividend, investors were unimpressed with the scale of the group’s write-downs and its bleak outlook.

Royal Bank of Scotland reported results broadly in line with expectations. The share price reaction was somewhat muted as it revealed its write-downs totalled £2.5bn, slightly above estimates.

But questions remain over its integration with ABN Amro, which RBS bought in October, although synergies can be expected to become apparent in due course.

John Goodall is a private client research analyst at stock broker WH Ireland.