Should you buy Experian plc, National Express Group plc and Centaur Media plc today?

Royston Wild considers whether investors should plough into Experian plc (LON: EXPN), National Express Group plc (LON: NEX) and Centaur Media plc (LON: CAU) in midweek trade.

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Today I’m running the rule over three midweek newsmakers.

Road warrior

Broad risk-aversion has seen coaches colossus National Express (LSE: NEX) slip 1% on Wednesday despite the release of an upbeat trading update.

National Express advised that it “has made a strong start to the year, with total revenue up 11% in the period on a constant currency basis” in the year to 1 April. Underlying sales were up 4% during the period, the firm added, with revenues growing across all its divisions.

National Express managed to post underlying revenue growth of 4% at its UK Coach division, despite the impact of recent terror-related incidents in Belgium in March, with passenger numbers rising 6% in the period.

With National Express clearly making strong progress at home and abroad, the City expects earnings to rise 6% in 2016 alone, resulting in a very attractive P/E rating of 13.2 times.

And a chunky dividend yield of 3.7% for the year makes the bus-and-train operator an attractive investment destination, in my opinion.

Media star

Business information and media specialist Centaur Media (LSE: CAU) also furnished the market with a bright trading update in midweek business. However, this couldn’t stop the stock slumping to fresh two-and-a-half-year lows below 50p.

Centaur announced that revenues had risen 5% between January and April, prompting it to affirm its full-year guidance for 2016.

Centaur added that “paid-for content and exhibitions revenues continue to grow well, although we are currently experiencing some market pressure in advertising and sponsorship revenues.”

The City expects growth in its high-quality channels to deliver plump returns in the coming years, and Centaur is expected to follow flatlining earnings in 2016 with a 10% jump in 2017. Consequently the media play boasts ultra-low P/E ratings of 9.2 times and 8.6 times for these periods.

And dividend hunters should give dividend projections for Centaur serious attention — the firm boasts market-bashing yields of 6.2% and 6.7% for 2016 and 2017.

Credit concerns

Credit report provider Experian (LSE: EXPN) also saw its share price slip on Wednesday, the firm enduring a 2% fall following a patchy set of trading numbers.

Experian advised that revenues slipped 4% in the year to March 2016, to $4.5bn, reflecting the adverse impact of currency movements. At constant exchange rates the top line actually grew 5% in the period.

Profit before tax clocked in at just over $1bn during the period, up marginally year-on-year.

Experian also announced plans to buy back $400m worth of shares in the current fiscal year, drawing to a close the current $800m repurchase programme.

While the City expects earnings to grow 5% in 2017, this figure results in an elevated P/E rating of 19 times. And a 2.3% dividend yields for the current year lags the prospective FTSE 100 average of 3.5% by some margin.

Given the likelihood of further chronic currency headaches this year and beyond, I believe Experian is an unattractive stock selection at current prices.

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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