4 screaming buys for the summer? ASOS plc, Next plc, WM Morrison plc and Paddy Power Betfair plc Ord Eur0.09

Could fine weather and a summer of sport benefit ASOS plc (LON:ASC), Next plc (LON:NXT), WM Morrisons plc (LON:MRW) or Paddy Power Betfair plc Ord Eur0.09 (LON:PPB)?

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Now that we’re comfortably inside June, thoughts will turn to the prospect of an extended period of better weather, a chance to spend more time outside and a summer of sport. But which companies might benefit?

Dressed to impress?

A long, hot summer would be welcomed by most fashion retailers, including online giant ASOS (LSE:ASC). The question is whether it can continue stealing customers from companies who have a massive high street presence, especially if the sun temporarily draws people away from their smartphones and tablets.

I think so. ASOS has proved itself as a high quality, massively cash-generative business. That said, its shares currently trade on an eye-wateringly high price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 81 for the current year. With high expectations of rapid growth comes the risk of huge disappointment, of course, and this valuation is too frothy for me. There’s no dividend either.

Those investors unwilling to take that chance may prefer the safety of a high street retailer like Next (LSE:NXT). Following last month’s profit warning and cut in sales guidance, its shares now trade at 5,350p.

Fashion retailing is an unbelievably tough market. As an investor, you’ll need to decide whether Next can recover from the very real threat posed by its online rivals. If you do, then a P/E of just 12 and a yield of over 4% for 2017 for suggests the former might just be a excellent buy for the medium term.  

BBQs at the ready!

A spell of hot weather could benefit other retailers, of course, even those engaged in a bitter price war with rivals, such as Morrisons (LSE: MRW)

The company holds its annual shareholders meeting later this week. Holders will be eager for an update following the announcement of its potentially very lucrative deal to supply fresh food to internet behemoth Amazon and its surprise re-entry to the FTSE100 back in March. That said, a recent report from Kantar Worldpanel gave the £4.6bn cap a market share of 10.7%, keeping the Bradford-based business firmly in fourth place, behind Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda

Morrisons currently yields just over 2.5% for 2016 and this payout seems adequately covered by earnings. Nevertheless, a P/E of over 21  is too high for me, regardless of the Amazon deal. Given the crowded hyper-competitive market in which it operates and the fact that, according to Kantar, it continues to be affected by store disposals, Morrisons is anything but a screaming buy in my opinion.

A decent bet?

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that a certain football tournament will soon be under way. Euro 2016 will be swiftly followed by the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and the Rio Olympics.

The summer of sport could be excellent news for Britain’s listed bookmakers, such as the recently-merged Paddy Power Betfair (LSE:PPB) which entered the FTSE 100 back in March.

But a screaming buy? Despite its considerable clout and geographical diversity, the company operates in an incredibly competitive market. If it benefits from this summer’s events, it seems reasonable to conclude that its rivals will too. Longer term, further consolidation in the industry due to rising taxes and more regulation could also erode some of the advantages currently experienced.

A high P/E ratio of 31 suggests the good news is already priced-in and there’s always the potential for certain teams to exit Euro 2016 earlier than anticipated, of course. 

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.

Paul Summers has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended ASOS. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Paddy Power Betfair. 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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