BNP raises Bharti Airtel to 'buy', cuts Reliance Comm

Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:44pm IST

A man stands next to a shop painted with an advertisement for Bharti Airtel on the outskirts of Jammu December 11, 2012. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta/Files

A man stands next to a shop painted with an advertisement for Bharti Airtel on the outskirts of Jammu December 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mukesh Gupta/Files

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Reuters Market Eye - BNP Paribas upgraded Bharti Airtel Ltd (BRTI.NS) to "buy" from "hold", it said in a note on Thursday.

Bharti is well positioned to benefit from an improving outlook for the sector, including a consolidating industry, the return of pricing power, and an expected "strong" pick up in wireless data use, says BNP.

BNP also retains its "buy" rating on Idea Cellular Ltd (IDEA.NS), calling the stock its "top pick" in the sector as the company is a "pure play" GSM mobile operator.

However, BNP cut Reliance Communications Ltd (RLCM.NS) to "reduce" from "hold" after noting shares had rallied 33.5 percent in the past three months.

Reliance Communications would have to pay for excess spectrum while suffering from "high" debt and lagging operating performance, BNP adds.

Bharti Airtel shares are down 0.8 percent as of 11:50 a.m. Idea is up 0.1 percent, while Reliance Communications is flat.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy and Manoj Dharra)

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