Today I’m looking at three companies with strong momentum and the financial performance to back it up. Will these growth stocks continue to climb, as we head into March?
Small cap, big growth
Veterinary medicine supplier Animalcare Group (LSE: ANCR) may not be a company that’s on your radar. But the group’s shares have risen by 56% over the last 12 months and recent results suggest that the shares may be worth a closer look.
Animalcare’s sales rose by 12% to £7.97m during the six months to 31 December. Operating profit rose by 23% to £3m, while the group’s operating margin rose from 21% to 23.2%. Retailers’ profit margins often rise as they sell more stuff, because their fixed costs per unit sold fall. This is known as operational gearing.
The shares now trade on a 2016/17 forecast P/E of 21, with a prospective yield of 2.1%. That’s not cheap, but the group’s £7m net cash balance and high profit margins should help to limit downside risk. I’d continue to hold.
Shareholder returns could rise
Trading is expected to improve over the coming year at fashion giant Burberry (LSE: BRBY). The impending arrival of the firm’s highly-rated new chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, could provide a further catalyst for the stock.
After a period of poor performance, there are already signs of improvement. Underlying sales rose by 4% to £735m during the third quarter, with comparable sales growth of 3%. The firm’s Asia Pacific division returned to growth and Burberry notched up comparable sales growth of 40% in the UK, thanks partly to tourists cashing in on the weaker pound.
Burberry shares aren’t cheap, on 22 times forecast earnings and with a 2.3% dividend yield. The weak pound has also boosted profits.
However, the group’s profit margins are attractive, and a high percentage of earnings are converted into free cash flow each year. Net cash of £529m means that there is scope for further share buybacks, dividends or even acquisitions. I’d hold, and would be a buyer below 1,500p.
Juicy performance could reward shareholders
BrainJuicer Group (LSE: BJU) may have a crazy name, but the group’s business is highly relevant and growing fast.
BrainJuicer is a hi-tech marketing consultancy. It uses in-house systems to help companies strengthen their brand appeal and make their advertising more effective.
For investors, the attraction is that earnings per share have risen by an average of more than 15% each year since 2011.
This stock has risen by 29% so far this year. An upbeat trading statement in January was followed by strong results in February. BrainJuicer reported a 24% rise in revenue and a 38% increase in pre-tax profit for 2016. Net cash was £7.75m at the end of the year, despite the firm returning £5.25m to shareholders in 2016.
In my view, BrainJuicer’s biggest weakness is that forward earnings visibility is limited. The group’s track record suggests this is an acceptable risk, but the stock’s forecast P/E of 17 doesn’t leave much room for error. I’d hold at current levels.