Should you buy Imperial Brands plc, Ryanair Holdings plc and Coal of Africa Limited today?

Royston Wild takes a look at Imperial Brands plc (LON: IMB), Ryanair Holdings plc (LON: RYA) and Coal of Africa Limited (LON: CZA).

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Today I’m running the rule over three newsmakers in Monday trade.

Axa’s chopping back

‘Big Tobacco’ found itself in the headlines on Monday after Axa (EPA: CS) decided to pull the plug on the sector.

The insurance giant plans to sell €1.7bn worth of shares and bonds, bringing to an end Axa’s long-running association with the cigarette industry.

Incoming CEO Thomas Buberl commented that “it makes no sense for us to continue our investments within the tobacco industry,” noting that the economic drawbacks outweigh the benefits as the huge costs associated with tobacco-related diseases push up health insurance claims.

It’s certainly been a turbulent week for major players like Imperial Brands (LSE: IMB), the introduction of plain packaging in the UK also having been given the green light in recent days.

But I believe the tobacco industry still remains a good destination for those seeking solid returns. Indeed, Imperial’s ‘Growth Brands’ like Winston and JPS carry terrific brand power that keep sales growing ahead of the market. And the company is investing vast sums in these labels to maintain their popularity with smokers across the globe.

The City expects Imperial Brands to deliver earnings growth of 12% and 9% in the years to September 2016 and 2017, respectively, resulting in decent P/E multiples of 15.4 times and 14.4 times.

And dividend yields of 4.3% for this year and 4.7% for 2017 underline Imperial Brands’ excellent value for money.

Soaring higher

Budget flyer Ryanair (LSE: RYA) also made the headlines on Monday after releasing terrific trading numbers.

Despite the impact of recent terrorism on the continent, the Irish airline saw revenues leap 16% in the 12 months to March 2017, to €6.54bn, with customer numbers leaping 18% during the period to 106.4m. Consequently profit after tax leapt 43% to €1.24bn.

And like Imperial Brands, I reckon Ryanair provides plenty of bang for your buck.

A predicted 29% earnings advance in fiscal 2017 results in a mega-low P/E rating of 11.6 times. And an anticipated 17% advance in 2018 pushes the multiple to just 9.9 times. I reckon this represents unmissable value given Ryanair’s strong position in a fast-growing market.

Coal shoulder

The recent volatility washing over Coal of Africa (LSE: CZA) continues on Monday, the firm surging back to the 4p per share landmark before handing back gains.

The digger exploded at the start of May after reaching an agreement with Rio Tinto and Kwezi Mining over a deferred payment for its Chapudi South African coal assets. The parties began discussions in March over accusations that Coal of Africa had breached terms relating to the 2012 purchase.

Coal of Africa has also bounced on the back of fresh acquisition news, the business successfully extending the offer period for Universal Coal twice since April. The latter’s shareholders now have until 24 June to accept the proposal.

I believe that the volatility seen at Coal of Africa — a common phenomenon with small-cap commodities stocks — makes the company a risk too far for savvy investors. And of course the structural decline in coal demand also raises huge questions over Coal of Africa’s appeal as a wise investment for long-term stock pickers, in my opinion.

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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