Merrill Lynch has advised holding on to JD Wetherspoon shares at 443p (475p this week). The pub operator is facing an uphill struggle to maintain profit once a smoking ban in implemented in the rest of the UK next year. The existing Scottish smoking ban has highlighted concerns because 25% of operating profits come from cigarette vending machines. The broker has upgraded earning estimates but says the risks remain high. The Daily Telegraph (Your Money) 23/09/06 page 6 (What the brokers say)