Today’s trading update from property developer Helical Bar (LSE: HLCL) shows that the company has made a number of key changes to its business in the last five months. For example, it has completed the Bower acquisition (the largest purchase in its history), rotated its portfolio in London, and has completed the restructuring of its board through the appointment of two independent non-executive directors.
Looking ahead, Helical Bar is expected to deliver rapidly rising profitability in the next two years. For example, its bottom line is due to rise by 97% in the 2017 financial year and by a further 36% in the 2018 financial year. This puts it on a forward price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 26.9, which indicates that its shares are richly valued at the present time. So, while the company may be starting a much more profitable era, its shares seem to offer limited upside. Therefore, other property companies may be better buys at the present time.
Also releasing significant news today was UK-based technology group Servelec (LSE: SERV). It has agreed to buy Tribal’s Synergy unit for £20.25m in cash, which will provide the company with growth opportunities as local authorities begin to take responsibility for children’s community health in the coming years. And with Servelec also announcing the award of multiple contracts for its technologies division from utility companies, it appears to be on the road to rising profitability.
Furthermore, Servelec’s results (also released today) show that the company is making encouraging progress. For example, revenue increased by 22% in 2015, while earnings per share soared by 25%. And with the company’s bottom line forecast to rise by 12% this year and by a further 14% next year, Servelec seems to be a strong growth play which could continue its share price rise of 15% over the last year. With its shares trading on a price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 1.1, it seems to offer excellent value for money, too.
Meanwhile, industrial fuel cell power company AFC Energy (LSE: AFC) is also at the start of what could prove to be a new era. After a successful 2015, it today announced eight new milestones which it is aiming to achieve during the course of 2016. They include the development of a second generation fuel cell stack and Balance of Plant during the second half of the year, as well as the conclusion of the basic design and engineering on a single cartridge 10kW system and a 1MW capacity fuel cell system. In addition, AFC Energy is seeking to commence scoping studies for at least three international fuel cell projects and secure contracts for at least two of them.
A whirlwind year
The news, however, has not been well-received by the market and AFC Energy’s shares have fallen by around 16%. Part of the reason for this fall could be a perceived delay regarding the company’s progress after such a whirlwind 2015 which saw the company’s shares rise from around 10p at the start of the year to reach 58p by July.
However, with AFC Energy continuing to make solid progress towards its goals and setting out a clear strategy for the next twelve months, it continues to be worth a closer look for less risk averse, long term investors. That’s especially the case with cleaner energy likely to become a more important industry in the coming years.