Britvic has had its coverage raised, based on the belief that 2008 will provide a more upbeat operating environment for the firm.

The investment bank group Altium said today (3 January) that it was upping its rating on the UK-based soft drinks company to 'buy' from 'add', while increasing its price target for shares to GBP4.00 from the previous GBP3.60.

A defensive performance in 2007 helped Britvic counter poor weather conditions and post year-on-year EPS growth of 10.9%, Altium noted.

This year, however, Britvic is in a position to deliver strong growth thanks to the purchase of C&C's soft drinks and distribution business in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, further cost saving initiatives coupled with product development and innovation underpinning organic growth, Altium added.

Britvic's task this year should be eased somewhat, the broker said, by the poor comparatives of the second half of 2007. A full-year forecast of a 6.6% sales lift was forecast, with pre-tax profits expected to come in 3.9% higher than 2007.