R&SA shares heat up

Hopes that Royal & Sun Alliance's (R&SA) third-quarter results will confirm the insurer is seeing brighter times pushed shares in the company to their highest level since March 2004.

Ahead of Thursday's figures, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods published an upbeat note on the stock, repeating its outperform recommendation and 110p price target, saying: "We expect the results to confirm the turnaround story of the company."

Numis Securities was also bullish, upgrading the shares from 'hold' to 'add' and repeating its 120p price target.

"While the discontinued US business remains a material issue, we think the significantly improved underwriting returns of the core business and the group's high investment gearing mean the ongoing business is beginning to look undervalued."

As Insurance Times went to press, R&SA was trading at 106p.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson came under pressure early this week, on vague worries about trading. The broker, however, has had a terrific run so far this year, having started 2005 at 372p a share and is currently worth 467p.

Troubled insurer Goshawk came in for further punishment after the group warned last week that it had breached certain banking covenants. The shares are now at 5p, having been at 43p in August, and 134p in January 2003.

' Yvette Essen is stock market reporter and insurance correspondent for The Daily Telegraph