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Are Clarkson plc, RM plc, Hargreaves Services plc and Kier Group plc buys after today’s updates?

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Today’s update from bulk material logistics specialist Hargreaves Services (LSE: HSP) is rather mixed. On the one hand, the company is set to be a net beneficiary of sterling’s weakness due to its current stocks of largely dollar-denominated coal and coke. However, it also announced that a £7m earthworks project at a major UK port has been postponed owing to Brexit-related concerns. Due to its significant exposure to construction activity and capital investment projects, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit could be bad for business.

As such, a wide margin of safety may be required when investing in Hargreaves Services. Its shares currently have a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of only 0.3, therefore they appear to offer growth at a very reasonable price. While they may remain volatile as the effects of Brexit become apparent, for long-term investors Hargreaves Services appears to be a bargain.

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Share price slump

Also reporting today was Clarkson (LSE: CKN). The integrated shipping services provider’s shares have slumped by 17% as it experienced a difficult trading period since its AGM. The ClarkSea index has fallen by a further 10% since the AGM, so that its average level for the first six months of 2016 was 30% lower than for the first half of 2015.

This deterioration in freight rates is due to higher uncertainty regarding the global economic outlook as well as the continuing imbalance between supply and demand in shipping and offshore. Clearly, Clarkson’s outlook is somewhat downbeat and this is reflected in its expected rise in earnings of just 2% this year. However, due to significantly better performance expected for next year, Clarkson has a PEG ratio of 0.7 and this indicates that for less risk-averse investors it could be a sound long-term buy.

Earnings rise

RM’s (LSE: RM) update has boosted its share price by over 4% today. The education software and services company recorded an increase in adjusted earnings of 5.2% in its first half, with strong revenue growth in its Results division partially offsetting reductions in its Resources and Education segments. As such, results were in line with expectations even though the UK education market remains somewhat subdued.

This operating environment is reflected in RM’s forecasts. It’s expected to report a fall in earnings of 5% this year, followed by a rise of just 2% next year. While disappointing, RM’s price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 7.6 indicates that it has a sufficiently wide margin of safety to merit purchase right now. Certainly, share price volatility may be high, but profitability for RM’s investors may be impressive in the coming years.

Strong pipeline

Meanwhile, Kier Group (LSE: KIE) also reported today. The property and construction services group is trading in line with management’s expectations since the release of its interim results in March. Looking ahead, it faces an uncertain outlook due in part to the potential impact from Brexit on UK construction. However, Kier believes the breadth of its business activities and strong order book provide both visibility and resilience.

For example, Kier Group’s Property division has a pipeline of projects totalling over £1bn, while its Residential division’s mixed tenure business has a pipeline of over £600m. Due to Kier trading on a forward P/E ratio of only 8.8, it seems to have a sufficiently wide margin of safety to make it an appealing long-term buy. Furthermore, its yield of 6.2% is likely to have huge appeal if interest rates fall over the coming months.

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Peter Stephens 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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