Increasingly confident

Shares in Wincanton (LSE: WIN) have risen by as much as 9% today, despite no significant news flow being released by the company. The supply-chain solutions specialist is most likely up by such a large extent due to a general improvement in investor confidence, now that a vote to remain in the EU seems more likely after recent polls.

A vote to ‘remain’ would probably be good news in the short run for Wincanton, due to its UK-focus, and the restoration of some ‘certainty’ that a vote for the status quo would bring — certainly compared to the months or even years of uncertainty that a ‘leave’ vote would produce. Encouragingly, the company seems to be making strong progress and its recent results show that the challenges which it has faced in recent years may be easing somewhat. Evidence of this can be seen in Wincanton’s decision to reintroduce dividends, which indicates that management is becoming increasingly confident in the long term prospects for the business.

With Wincanton forecast to post a rise in its bottom line of 8% next year and its shares trading on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 9, it seems to be an excellent long term buy.

A potential boost

Also rising today are shares in media group  Future (LSE: FUTR), which announced the acquisition of Miura, the parent company of Imagine Publishing. The total consideration is £14.2m and will be paid for via the issue of 179.5m new shares in Future. With the deal representing a logical step for Future in terms of increasing its scale and improving operational efficiencies, it seems to be a good move for the company’s long term profitability.

With Future forecast to increase its bottom line by 60% in the current year and by a further 163% next year, it seems to be on the cusp of drastically improved financial performance. This has the potential to boost investor sentiment in the stock, and Future’s share price fall of 21% since the start of the year could easily be reversed. That’s especially the case since it trades on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of just 0.1, which indicates that it offers staggering growth prospects at a very reasonable price.

Struggling with debt

Meanwhile, shares in Xcite Energy (LSE: XEL) have soared by as much as 10% today, even in the absence of any news from the North Sea oil explorer. Clearly, the current period is a highly uncertain one for Xcite, with there seemingly being a good chance that a portion of its debt will be swapped for equity in the near term. That’s because it is struggling to repay its debt and such a move would squeeze the returns for existing shareholders.

Certainly, Xcite’s Bentley field has considerable long term profit potential, but with the oil price having fallen dramatically, Xcite has been unable to find a buyer or partner for the prospect. And with its finances in such a difficult position, it seems wise for investors seeking a small-cap oil exploration business to look elsewhere.

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Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.