Are BT Group plc, Imagination Technologies Group plc & Sophos Group PLC ‘Screaming Buys’ After Recent Updates?

Should you pile into these 3 stocks right now? BT Group plc (LON: BT.A), Imagination Technologies Group plc (LON: IMG) and Sophos Group PLC (LON: SOPH).

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Shares in Imagination Technologies (LSE: IMG) have been akin to a rollercoaster this week, with a profit warning sending them plunging by as much as 15% yesterday. However, they’ve since recovered and have been up by as much as 16% today before falling back to roughly the same level as they were at the end of last week.

Clearly, news that the company will make an operating loss this year is disappointing, while a change in CEO also brings a degree of uncertainty regarding the company’s long-term future. However, with Imagination Tech now set to implement major changes to its business, that long-term future could be brighter than the market is currently anticipating.

For example, it plans to reduce the total operating costs of its ongoing businesses by £15m in the next financial year, with a further investment of £2m in Power VR strengthening its flagship multimedia product. And with the planned sale of Pure, it should provide the company with additional cash resources before it initiates a full operational review.

Of course, buying now entails a relatively high degree of risk since Imagination Technologies is in the midst of a period of major change. As such, it seems prudent to watch and wait, rather than buy, at the present time.

Living with volatility

Also among the major movers today is security software and hardware company Sophos (LSE: SOPH), with its shares being down 9% after the release of a quarterly update. Despite this fall, the Sophos update was relatively encouraging, with the company reaffirming the guidance that was given at the time of its first-half results announcement.

Certainly, currency headwinds have affected its overall performance, but like-for-like billings grew by 17% in the last three months and Sophos achieved growth across all of its product categories and key regions. And with the company’s shares trading on a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 12.7, they appear to offer good value for money. As such, they may be of interest to investors who can live with a relatively high degree of share price volatility.

Unappealing play

Meanwhile, BT’s (LSE: BT-A) recent update showed that it has the potential to continue to grow its customer numbers. A new corporate structure should help it to achieve this, with six divisions now set to provide considerable cross-selling opportunities for the company as it grows its quad play offering. Furthermore, the restructuring should allow for greater efficiencies and ease the integration of EE, the purchase of which is a major coup for the business.

Clearly, change brings uncertainty and the risk of BT’s rapid evolution not paying off in higher profit doesn’t seem to be reflected in its current valuation. Certainly, earnings growth of 7% next year would be an impressive start, but with a highly leveraged balance sheet and a substantial pension liability, BT’s P/E ratio of 15.2 lacks appeal.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

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

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