Earlier this week, the UK’s leading manager and developer of student accommodation, Unite Group (LSE: UTG), announced that it had received planning permission to build a 573-bed property in Manchester city centre, taking the total development pipeline to be delivered in the next three years to 6,500 beds.
The Bristol-based group, better known as Unite Students, is the UK’s largest and most established manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation. It provides a home for around 50,000 of them in more than 140 properties, across 28 leading university cities in England and Scotland. The group works in partnership with more than 60 Higher Education institutions and also lets rooms directly to students.
Manchester has the largest student population in the UK after London with two high quality universities, making it a strong market for Unite Students. The latest announcement builds on the group’s strategy to work in partnership with mid to high-ranking universities, and should be good news for investors, providing further visibility for future earnings growth.
No student discount
Demand for student accommodation has exceeded availability for quite some time, and this shortage isn’t going to evaporate any time soon. It’s no surprise then that Unite’s shares have been in high demand, soaring by almost 30% over the past 12 months.
So no student discount here I’m afraid, as the shares now look fully valued at 24 times 2017 earnings. However, I continue to view the FTSE 250 group as an exciting long-term growth play, and would wait patiently for any share price correction or pull-back, and be ready to buy on weakness.
Molton flow engineering
For those who can’t wait to spend that hard-earned cash, then perhaps a more timely growth opportunity comes in the form of Vesuvius (LSE: VSVS). Not only does the business have an awe-inspiring name, but over the last couple of years it has also delivered for its shareholders, with its share price soaring from lows of 271p in early 2016, to recent highs of 606p. But I think the shares are worth more.
The FTSE 250-listed business is a global leader in molten metal flow engineering, principally serving the steel and foundry industries, developing innovative and customised solutions, often used in extremely demanding industrial environments.
During the first half of 2017, Vesuvius benefitted from the 4.5% year-on-year growth in global steel production, as reported by the World Steel Association. At the same time, the group continued to make further progress with its restructuring programme, where annual savings targets have now increased by £15m to a total of £55m.
Vesuvius’s share price has exploded over the past couple of years, with its shares doubling in value since the start of last year, and yet strong forecasts for growth mean that it trades on an undemanding forward price-to-earnings ratio of 16.