Shares in insurer Hastings Group (LSE: HSTG) have been given a boost today after it reported upbeat results for the 2015 financial year. Gross written premiums increased by 27% versus their 2014 level, while revenue and operating profit rose by 20% and 19%, respectively.
Encouragingly, Hastings has seen its market share rise by 20 basis points to 5.3% during the last year. With it investing heavily for future growth, it also appears to be in a good position to record further strong growth numbers moving forward. For example, Hastings has witnessed a continued upward trajectory in home and telematics, with policy numbers increasing by 87% and 58%, respectively, in 2015.
Looking ahead, Hastings is forecast to grow its bottom line by as much as 41% in the 2016 financial year. And with its shares having a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 10.1, this equates to a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of only 0.25. As such, now seems to be an opportune moment to buy a slice of it for the long run.
Bright long-term future
Also reporting today was Gym Group (LSE: GYM). Although its loss for the 2015 financial year widened from £9.4m in 2014 to £12.4m, the budget gym operator has a bright long-term future. That’s because low-cost gyms continue to become increasingly popular among consumers, with Gym Group having increased its membership numbers by 28.3% in the last year alone. Furthermore, its loss for the year includes one-off IPO finance costs and other exceptional items.
Gym Group’s adjusted pre-tax profit is expected to rise in 2016 to £8.9m from 2015’s £5.3m. A key reason for this is the rapid rate of openings, with six new sites planned for the first half of 2016. And with the company having a business model which appears to be proving popular among consumers, its shares could continue their rise of 13% since its IPO last year. That’s especially the case with adjusted profit set to grow at a rapid rate and the company’s somewhat disruptive business model having the potential to prove popular in new locations.
Strength in emerging markets
Meanwhile, car distributor Inchcape (LSE: INCH) also released results today, benefitting from strength in emerging markets. Revenue rose by 7.8% in 2015, while operating profit increased by 10.3% at constant exchange rates. The latter was helped by an increase in underlying operating margins of 20 basis points, while Inchcape’s after-sales operations also delivered an upbeat performance in 2015.
Looking ahead, Inchcape is forecast to grow its bottom line by 8% in 2016 and by a further 6% next year. This is roughly in-line with the outlook for the wider index, but with Inchcape trading on a P/E ratio of 13.2, it appears to offer good value for money. That’s especially the case when its highly diversified business model is factored in, with it operating across multiple regions and having different revenue streams. This is a key reason why it has recorded profit growth in each of the last five years and for long-term investors, it seems to be an excellent buy at the present time.