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3 FTSE 100 Shares For The Week Ahead: Antofagasta plc, Bunzl plc And G4S plc

Interim updates from FTSE 100 companies with half-years ending in June are not quite done and we still have a few stragglers, though the bulk of them are behind us now. Here’s a quick look at three sets of half-time figures coming our way next week:

Antofagasta, Tuesday 27 August

We’re due first-half results from copper miner Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO) on Tuesday, at a time when the mining sector is enjoying a mini-revival — Antofagasta shares are up around 15% since the start of July to 912p, though they have fallen from 1,380p at the start of the year.

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In its second-quarter production report at the end of July, the company told us that copper production fell slightly from the first quarter to 180,300 tonnes, but that was due to scheduled maintenance at its Esperanza plant. Over the half-year, copper output rose by 8.4% to 364,100 tonnes. Where there’s copper there’s often gold, and Antofagasta dug up 162,900 ounces of the stuff during the half, up 19.7% on the same period a year previously.

There is a big dip in earnings per share (EPS) forecast for the full year, of 33%, though copper prices are starting to creep up again. We’ll see how the firm has managed in turning those production figures into cash.

Bunzl, Tuesday 27 August

Tuesday will also bring us interim figures from distribution and outsourcing company Bunzl (LSE: BNZL). The Bunzl share price has done well so far in 2013, having gained 345p (34%) since the start of January to reach 1,355p. In fact, if you’d held Bunzl shares since early 1990, your money would have multiplied more than 20-fold by now, not even including dividends, while the FTSE 100 overall hasn’t even managed a four-bagger. Perhaps that says something about investing in boring but essential businesses.

Over the past few years Bunzl has been modestly but steadily growing its earnings, and forecasts for the year to December suggest a rise in earnings per share (EPS) of 8%, followed by a further 6% in 2014. That does put the shares on a forward P/E of 17, but quality companies tend to attract higher-then-average valuations.

Judging by June’s pre-close update, Bunzl seems to be on track to make those forecasts come true, as the firm expects first-half revenue to grow by around 11%. That’s based on 2% organic growth with the rest the result of acquisitions — Bunzl has made four acquisitions during the period with combined “annualised revenue of more than £150 million“.

G4S, Wednesday 28 August

On Wednesday it’s the turn of G4S (LSE: GFS) to bring us first-half results. It’s likely to be another tough year for the security firm, with a first-quarter update telling us of “continued challenging economic and trading conditions” amongst other woes. Revenue did actually rise at the first-quarter stage, by 7.5%, but margins fell, and there’s a 6% fall in EPS currently forecast for the full year.

We should still be seeing a dividend yield of around 3.7% on the current share price of 246p, however, and EPS is predicted to pick up again in 2014 — the shares are on a forward P/E for this year of 12, falling to 11 for next year.

With those figures making G4S perhaps look cheap, it could be one to dig into further with a view to a recovery investment, but debt could still prove to be a killer. At December 2012, net debt stood at £1.8bn. And while the firm has enough credit headroom for now, most people would like to see that coming down — so that’s something to pay special attention to on Wednesday.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.

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