Falling sales for Magners cider and slim prospects for recovery in 2009 have led Goldman Sachs to cut its rating on C&C Group from buy to sell.

The investment broker said in a note yesterday (27 January) that it remained "unclear" how C&C Group could halt its market share slide in the UK.

It said there was a "big question mark" over C&C Group's ability to return its Magners cider brand to growth.

Goldman's warning piles the pressure on to C&C Group's new management team, led by ex-Scottish & Newcastle CEO John Dunsmore. Revenue for the third quarter to the end of November fell by 13%, with cider sales down 19%, and the trend has continued into January, the firm said this month.

The group's share price tumbled to EUR0.82 at the end of trading yesterday, compared to EUR1.5 at the start of January and more than EUR4 at the same time last year. Shares sold for more than EUR10 at the beginning of 2007. 

One analyst told just-drinks this month that, with little prospect of a significant improvement in trading, C&C may focus on cost cutting to improve investor confidence.