One of the FTSE 350’s ranks of difficult-to-distinguish widget makers and thingummy merchants, IMI PLC (LON:IMI), has again had its head thrust above the parapet by a gushing response from the City to its latest trading update.

JPMorgan was perhaps the most aroused by this latest set of numbers from the maker of valves and tools, saying it seemed like “something of a landmark” and could change how investors think about the stock.

The company, which maintains on its website that it works in “an intriguing world where every industry brings its own challenges”, yesterday increased long-term divisional margin targets for each of the three divisions, raised its sustainable margin guidance to 18-20% from 14% before, and hiked full-year earnings per share guidance to 84p from 78.5p previously.

Chief executive Roy Twite (with a name like that he was clearly destined to lead a FTSE 250 engineer since birth) said IMI’s “increased focus on adding value for our customers by solving key industry problems, along with initiatives to reduce complexity and accelerate growth, [is] delivering tangible benefits”, while also announcing a share buy-back equivalent to around 5% of the market cap.

The short-term is impressive enough, but longer-term implications of the group’s performance are more important, said JPMorgan.

“To us this feels something of a landmark statement, confirming the strategy is decisively moving IMI forward with management targeting a level of performance not seen in close to a decade and demonstrating a level of progress that we believe can change how investors think about the stock,” the investment bank said, setting a new 1,650p share price target that compares to the last close of 1,570p.

Over at Barclays, analysts did what they do when they’re excited – they raised their sum-of-the-parts-derived target price.

With a new target of 1,810p, the Barclays team said: “IMI, in our view, now deserves a reduced discount to its SOTP of -10% versus its five-year average of -15%, reflecting the progress being made at the company in terms of both growth and profitability”.Liberum was also enthused, saying “the stronger cyclical back-drop, combined with significant structural margin improvements should underpin a further re-rating of the group”.

Not wanting to be left out, Citi also increased its price target to 1,760p from 1,480p.

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