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3 Great Growth Picks For 2016: Go-Ahead Group plc, Michael Page International plc, Crest Nicholson Holdings PLC?

So the FTSE 100 has had a rocky start to 2016. And people are deserting shares due to fears of China, banks, recession, or whatever… Is that a good time to be looking for growth shares? Most definitely.

Growth in travel

Shares in Go-Ahead Group (LSE: GOG) have actually fallen by 17% since their December peak, but interim results released Thursday gave them a 6% boost back up to 2,380p. Go-Ahead operates bus and commuter train services, and provides ground handling services for the aviation industry too, which might perhaps not sound all that glamorous.

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But a 25% rise in EPS forecast for the year to June 2016 puts the shares on a lowly PEG ratio of 0.5 — the PEG compares the firm’s P/E (currently 12.2 for Go-Ahead) with its earnings growth, and anything under 0.7 tends to get growth investors salivating.

The first-half figures suggested everything is on track, with the firm’s full-year expectations unchanged. Adjusted earnings per share rose by 25%, bang on the full-year forecast target, and the interim dividend was lifted by 6.5% to 28.33p per share, nicely ahead of inflation.

Recruitment strength

Michael Page International (LSE: MPI) has seen its shares lose 24% in the past 12 months after a depressing fall since the turn of the year to 377p. That’s despite the global recruitment specialist having put in two years of healthy EPS growth, and despite a Q4 update telling us of a 9.2% rise in gross profit to a record £555.9m. Fourth quarter conditions did apparently deteriorate a little, and the fear might now be that EPS growth could come in below the tipsters’ forecast of 11% — results are due on 10 March.

But the 23% EPS growth currently forecast for 2016 keeps the P/E down to a modest 15 and gives the shares a PEG of 0.7. There’s a 3.2% dividend yield predicted too, which is around the FTSE average and better than a bank savings account. So could we be looking at a great growth opportunity with a decent dividend thrown in for good measure? The City seems to think so, offering a healthy buy consensus.

Bricks and mortar

My third growth candidate is FTSE 250 housebuilder Crest Nicholson (LSE: CRST), whose shares are up 27% in the past 12 months to 572p, and by 110% in five years.

For the year ended October 2015, Crest Nicholson reported an 8% rise in completed homes, and a 32% boost in pre-tax profit to £154m from revenue of £805m, and lifted its dividend by 38%. The whole sector has been enjoying a very rosy spell of late with massive profits for those who invested in the downturn, and the thing is there’s no sign of it stopping.

With a strong forward sales book, Crest reckons it’s on target for £1bn in revenue in 2016, and is aiming for £1.4bn by 2019. Analysts are forecasting a further 20% rise in EPS this year, and that puts Crest Nicholson shares on a very low P/E of 9.5 and a PEG of just 0.5. Oh, and there’s a 4.9% dividend predicted too.

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Alan Oscroft 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.