Europe shares hit 1-wk low, some results disappoint

Europe shares hit 1-wk low, some results disappoint

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 23, 2012 09:00 hrs

* FTSEurofirst 300 index falls 0.8 percent

* Alfa Laval drops 6.7 pct after earnings

* Sell-off across board, all sectors down

By Atul Prakash

LONDON, Oct 23 (Reuters) - European stocks fell broadly on Tuesday as third quarter results presented a mixed picture, hitting a one-week low that analysts said might encourage some investors back into the market.

Swedish engineering group Alfa Laval led decliners, dropping 6.7 percent after earnings missed forecasts and it predicted flat demand at best in the rest of the year.

"There has been an element of (earnings) disappointment so far as some of the statements remain downbeat given the global economic environment," Henk Potts, equity strategist at Barclays Wealth, said.

"However, any weakness should be used by investors to increase their exposure to an asset class that continues to outperform. We like technology, energy and consumer discretionary sectors."

Tuesday's sell-off was across the board, with all the sectors on the STOXX Europe 600 falling. Basic resources shares topped the fallers' list by dropping 1.6 percent, mirroring sharp declines in metals prices that fell on persistent worries about global demand.

At 0815 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.8 percent at 1,099.08 points after falling to 1,098.53, its lowest since Oct. 16.

The index has risen 16 percent from a June low and is up about 10 percent so far this year against a gloomy economic backdrop, but some analysts said its medium- to longer-term outlook remained positive.

Graham Bishop, senior equity strategist at Exane BNP Paribas, said now was a good time to buy back into the market.

"Markets are now less overbought and are getting some valuation and earnings support. You should be prepared to take more risk," he said. "We are overweight banks, mining, industrials, chemicals and construction."

According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, of the 9 percent companies that have reported third-quarter results so far, 56 percent have met or beaten analyst forecasts.

"There is a chance that earnings disappointments will be quite minor on the basis that growth might have weakened in the third quarter, but leading indicators picked up in September... We will be bullish in the near term," Bishop said.

Leading gainers were Michelin and Swedbank , up 3.9 percent and 2.3 percent after both posted positive updates.

Experian rose 3.6 percent after the British credit information firm bought an outstanding stake in Brazilian affiliate Serasa, which analysts said had strong prospects.

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