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Battle Of The Traders: London Stock Exchange Group Plc, IG Group Holdings plc, Plus500 Ltd And Investec plc

Shares in the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE: LSE) have jumped by around 2% today after the company reported that it had seen a “good performance” across each of its businesses in the 11 months to the end of November. Secondary markets saw average daily UK equity value traded up 9% year-on-year, and the average daily volume traded on the LSE’s Italian bourses increased by 7%. Moreover, the integration of the LSE’s recent acquisition, FTSE Russell, is going to plan and synergies from the deal are starting to flow through. 

This is just the latest in a string of upbeat trading statements from the LSE group. Over the past five years, the company has doubled pre-tax profit and earnings per share. And shareholders have reaped the benefits of this growth. LSE’s shares have risen by approximately 230% since the end of 2010 – that’s excluding dividends. 

City analysts expect the LSE group’s earnings per share to expand 12% this year to 111.9p and a further 5% during 2016 to 117.6p. 

Controversy

Controversial spread-betting and CFD provider, Plus500 (LSE: PLUS) has had a rough year. During the past 12 months, the company’s shares have lost more than a quarter of their value after a short-seller launched a vicious attack on the company. There have also been concerns about its business model.

An offer from Playtech to acquire Plus500 was called off at the end of last month due to “concerns” raised by the Financial Conduct Authority. It’s understood these concerns related to management experience within the two businesses and the previous issue of anti-money laundering systems at Plus500. What’s of more concern is the fact that analysts have shied away from putting together earnings estimates for Plus500 for 2016 and 2017. With so much controversy surrounding the group, it might be wise to avoid this one. 

Steady growth 

Plus500’s peer, IG Group (LSE: IGG) has had a much more successful past 12 months. Year-to-date IG’s shares are up nearly 10% excluding dividends and the company is going from strength-to-strength.

Over the past three years, IG’s shares have jumped by more than 80% excluding dividends and there could be further gains to come. Indeed, City analysts expect IG’s earnings per share to increase by 2% this year and then a further 10% next year.

That said, IG’s shares trade at a premium forward P/E of 18.2, which may be too rich for some investors. However, the shares do support a dividend yield of 3.6% and the payout is set to increase by 20% during the next two years. So, IG could be a good buy for income investors. 

Roller coaster ride

Lastly, South African asset manager Investec (LSE: INVP). Its shares have been on a roller coaster during the past month as the market has become increasingly concerned about the company’s exposure to the volatile South African economy.

Still, City analysts don’t seem to be too concerned as they expect the company’s earnings per share to expand 11% this year and a further 13% during 2016. Investec’s shares are currently trading at a forward P/E of 12.4 and support a dividend yield of 4.3%.

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Rupert Hargreaves 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.