Are DS Smith plc, Cambian Group plc and London Stock Exchange Group plc 3 stocks to avoid following today’s updates?

Should you buy or sell DS Smith plc (LON: SMDS), Cambian Group plc (LON: CMBN) and London Stock Exchange Group plc (LON: LSE)?

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Making solid progress

Today’s update from recycled packaging company DS Smith (LSE: SMDS) shows that it is making solid progress. Its performance is in-line with previous expectations and the trends described in its 9 March trading statement have continued. Encouragingly, DS Smith has enjoyed good volume growth across its business, with return on sales and return on capital improving versus the same period of the prior year.

Looking ahead, DS Smith continues to invest heavily in expanding its geographic footprint and customer offer. In fact, it has invested €600m in acquisitions in the last year and with growth in sales from its large pan-European customers having been particularly strong, it seems to be on the road towards becoming a more diversified business.

With DS Smith trading on a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 12.9, it seems to offer good value for money. That is further evidenced by the forecasts for the company’s bottom line, with DS Smith’s earnings expected to rise by 13% this year and by a further 7% next year. As such, its price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio stands at just 1.3, which indicates that it could prove to be a profitable long term buy.

Delivering growth

Also updating the market today on its progress has been London Stock Exchange Group (LSE: LSE).  It recorded a strong performance in its first quarter, with all main business divisions delivering growth on an organic and constant currency basis. There was particularly strong performance in LCH revenues, with them rising by 12% at constant currency versus the comparable period from last year.

With LSE’s planned merger with Deutsche Borse set to create a larger and more enticing growth opportunity, this is an exciting time for investors in LSE. And with the company forecast to grow its bottom line by 19% this year and by a further 14% next year, it seems to be performing exceptionally well as a business. Furthermore, with it having a PEG ratio of only 1.4, its margin of safety appears to be sufficiently wide to merit investment at the present time.

Overly ambitious

Meanwhile, shares in Cambian (LSE: CMBN) were among the major fallers today after it released a rather disappointing set of full-year results. The specialist behavioural health services provider recorded a wider loss compared to the prior year, with its pretax loss amounting to £16.4m versus £4.2m in 2014. Part of the reason for this was an overly ambitious expansion plan, but with Cambian taking remedial actions, its future could be much brighter.

Furthermore, Cambian continues to experience strong demand for its services and it is confident that growth will be restored for the full-year. In fact, it is forecast to return to profitability this year and with Cambian’s shares trading on a PEG ratio of 0.4 they seem to offer a relatively appealing risk/reward ratio. Therefore, for less risk averse investors, Cambian could be worth a closer look.

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 has recommended DS Smith. 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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