Why Shrewd Investors Are Buying National Grid plc, ITV plc & Hays plc Today!

Royston Wild considers the investment case for National Grid plc (LON: NG), ITV plc (LON: ITV) and Hays plc (LON: HAS).

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Today I am running the rule over three white-hot London stocks.

Television titan

The Footsie rumour mill was dominated on Thursday by news that broadcasting colossus ITV (LSE: ITV) is considering making a takeover bid for production giant Entertainment One (LSE: ETO).

The owner of hits like Peppa Pig has issued a statement saying that no offer has been made, but a tie-up would fit in nicely with ITV’s busy acquisition drive. The London broadcaster has made a flurry of global acquisitions in hot growth areas like reality TV in recent years, a strategy that helped push revenues at its ITV Studios arm 33% higher last year, to £1.2bn.

ITV has proved extremely adept at evolving to thrive in a rapidly-changing broadcasting environment —  the company racked up a sixth successive year of double-digit profit growth in 2015.

And the number crunchers expect ITV to keep on pulling up trees. Earnings expansion of 9% and 7% is pencilled in for 2016 and 2017 respectively. And I believe consequent P/E ratings of 13.3 times and 12.4 times provide terrific value given the broadcaster’s exciting growth philosophy.

Sign it up

Recruitment specialists Hays (LSE: HAS) greeted the market with positive trading numbers on Thursday, a development which shoved the share price 7% higher on the day.

Although like-for-like British fees declined between January and March, the strength of Hays’ international operations propelled group underlying fees 4% higher in the period. Indeed, the recruiter saw fees grow by double-digit percentages in 17 countries, providing Hays with a twelfth consecutive quarter of growth.

The City expects Hays to enjoy earnings growth of 9% in the year to June 2016, resulting in a decent P/E ratio of 15 times. And the multiple plummets to an excellent 12.6 times for next year thanks to predictions of an 18% bottom-line bump. I reckon this represents terrific value given Hays’ solid upward momentum.

An electrifying stock pick

Network operator National Grid’s (LSE: NG) steady rise illustrates the degree of investor uncertainty still washing over financial markets. The share price has risen almost 25% over the past year alone, taking the power play above the 1,000p per share marker for the first time just this week.

National Grid is considered by many as the ultimate defensive stock, as electricity’s role as an essential ‘modern world’ commodity providing the firm with reliable earnings visibility regardless of the broader economic climate.

And I believe investor inflows into safe havens like National Grid are likely to pick up further in the months ahead as the klaxons concerning the health of the global economy become louder. Just this week the IMF cut its growth forecasts for 2016 and 2017, to 3.2% and 3.5% respectively, the body warning that “growth has been too slow for too long.”

I also believe National Grid still provides exceptional value for money despite these share price rises. Projected earnings growth of 1% for the years to March 2017 and 2018 result in reasonable P/E ratings of 16.4 times and 16.2 times for these years.

And National Grid’s robust earnings outlook is expected to keep throwing up market-bashing dividends. Predicted payouts of 44.8p per share for this year and 45.8p in 2018 yield an impressive 4.5% and 4.6% correspondingly.

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.

Royston Wild 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.

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