ASML paints optimistic earnings picture to boost European shares

Reuters - UK Focus

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.3 pct

* ASML reiterates optimistic outlook after earnings beat

* ABB (NYSE: ABB - news) suffers after profit warning

* Intesa, Enel (Milan: ENEL.MI - news) benefit from Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) upgrades

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - European shares rose onWednesday, buoyed by above expectation results from Dutchtechnology firm ASML that helped to raise optimism over thenascent European earnings season.

ASML, regarded as a barometer for the health ofEurope's technology sector, surged 5 percent after it beatforecasts for its fourth-quarter results and reiterated itsupbeat outlook for first-half sales.

While only 8 percent of STOXX Europe has reportedearnings so far, 68 percent of those that have posted resultshave beaten or met expectations for yearly earnings.

"Although the proof will be in the pudding, the expectationis for European earnings to shine, with a likelihood of moresurprises than disappointments," Darren Sinden, trader at Titan (Shenzhen: 002531.SZ - news)Investment Partners, said.

However, Swiss engineer ABB fell 3.8 percent afterit flagged that its power division would miss quarterly profittargets after $260 million in charges due to project delays andrestructuring costs.

"Whilst a $260 million hit for ABB is not that palatable ina quarter, in the grand scheme of things its not thatmaterial, particularly if it is just a one off restructuringcharge," Sinden said.

"Overall I would expect Industrials to do well over themedium term."

By 0828 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst was up0.3 percent at 1,349.55, just shy of a fresh multi-year hightouched during Tuesday's trade at 1,353.47.

The index is up 2.5 percent this year, having broken out ofa tight ten point range a week ago.

Supporting gains were a number of companies that benefitedfrom target price upgrades from banks, with Italian utility Enel (MDD: ENEL.MDD - news) and bank Intesa San Paolo gaining 2.4 percentand 1.7 percent respectively after both received upgrades fromBarclays.

Enel is upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" by the bank, whichsays that negativity still surrounds the firm, which still lookslike good value despite a 9 percent gain so far this year.

"We believe this year (Enel) can change the negativeperception that the market still has in relation to thecompany's generation of FCF (free cash flow) and de-leverageprospects," analysts at Barclays said in a note.

"Despite the good run, the stock still appears cheap."

Today's European research round-up

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