SELL i-Cable Communications Merrill Lynch has reiterated its 'sell' rating. Analysts Simon Cheung, Agnes Ho and Alistair Scott said subscriber growth this year would likely be in line with expectations, with pay television customers reaching 620,000 and broadband customers reaching 250,000. I-Cable was expensive at 29 times forward earnings, the investment bank said. '[The stock is] the most expensive in our Hong Kong media universe ... [and] not justifiable in our view given its declining earnings profile,' the analysts said. Merrill has a price target of $1.60. BUY Aluminium Corp of China Core Pacific-Yamaichi has initiated coverage with a 'buy' rating. Analyst Geoffrey Cheng said alumina prices would continue to rise this year due to tightened supply and stronger aluminium prices driven by a recovery in the Group of Seven economies. On the production side, the company is accelerating its expansion plans, allocating an additional seven billion yuan (HK$6.59 billion) on top of original outlays of 10 billion yuan to double capacity by 2005. Mr Cheng expected earnings to rise 100 per cent to 27 fen a share this year and 22 per cent to 33 fen next year. He has a price target of $2.30 based on nine times forward earnings. HOLD Esprit Holdings Sun Hung Kai Research has downgraded the fashion retailer from 'buy' to 'hold' based on the company's limited upside potential. Analyst Carrie Chan said much of the positive news for Esprit - such as a decade of double-digit top- and bottom-line growth and the benefits of a stronger euro - had already been priced in. Meanwhile, she held concerns for Esprit's sales prospects in Germany given its continued weakness. Germany is the company's largest market in Europe, where it derived 57 per cent and 44 per cent of its wholesale and retail sales, respectively. Ms Chan forecast earnings to grow 17.9 per cent to 94.9 cents per share this year and 21.7 per cent to $1.155 next year. She has a price target of $21.