BT's army of small shareholders got a reality check today when a City bank brought out the red pen to declare the shares “overcooked” after a spectacular run since March.
The “sell” recommendation from Deutsche Bank sent shares 3% lower to 174.4p today, having been on a charge in recent weeks after chief executive Philip Jansen's pledge to “build like fury” with £25 billion investment in ultra-fast internet speeds.
The shares were below 100p in November after the company's dividend was cut for the first time since privatisation in 1984 and as Jansen set about rebasing future expectations.
A clearer picture on investment and a favourable Budget have helped shares to nudge 180p but Deutsche's Robert Grindle still thinks a price of 140p is more appropriate.
BT's fall came during a lacklustre session for the wider market, with renewed uncertainty over the UK's plans for holiday travel this summer contributing to British Airways owner IAG falling 2% or 5.1p to 204.3p.
The FTSE 100 index was 41.72 points lower at 7,066.28, with National Grid the biggest faller — 46.3p to 914.3p — as its shares traded without the right to the latest dividend payment.
A bright spot came from Johnson Matthey after the speciality chemicals firm was the subject of a big upgrade from analysts at Jefferies.
They reckon the shares are worth 4,200p, arguing that the market has been too sceptical about the earnings outlook in clean air and the company's exposure to energy transition materials.
Shares jumped 45p to 3,117p at the top of a shortened FTSE 100 risers board. Johnson was joined by intelligence, exhibitions and events business Informa, which rose 4.2p to 549.6p after it said it remains on track to deliver on 2021 revenues targets.
The FTSE 250 index was down 39.87 points to 22,893.42, with easyJet among the fallers with a decline of 2% or 24.9p to 985.6p.
Recruitment firm Hays lifted 1.6p to 177.2p after sentiment in the sector was boosted by STEM specialist SThree reporting that profits for the year to November will be materially ahead of expectations.
SThree shares jumped 7% or 30p to 454p in the FTSE All-Share.