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Should You Buy Dechra Pharmaceuticals plc, Enquest Plc & Cairn Energy PLC Today?

Today I’m looking at three stocks making the news in start-of-week business.

Drugs delight marches on

Pet medicines mammoth Dechra Pharmaceuticals (LSE: DPH) cheered the market with terrific half-year numbers in Monday business, propelling the stock 8% higher from the end of last week.

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Dechra advised that group revenues surged 9.7% between July and December, to £110.7m, while underlying operating profits galloped 24.2% higher to £26.3m.

The pharma play’s North American division was again the standout performer, where new product launches and an increase in its sales force helped drive demand 59.1% higher from the same period last year. Meanwhile, last October’s purchase of poultry vaccines manufacturer Genera is also paying off handsomely, the unit contributing £3.4m in revenues during the half.

The City expects Dechra to enjoy a 3% earnings rise in the year to June 2016, leaving the business dealing on a conventionally-high P/E rating of 23.3 times.

Still, I believe in the firm’s strong position in the fast-growing animal medicines market, helped in no small part by the strength of its product pipeline. The company received regulatory approval for its Zycortal canine and Osphos horse treatments during July-December and I reckon Dechra is still an attractive growth pick at current prices.

Oilies on the acquisition trail

Oil explorers Cairn Energy (LSE: CNE) and Enquest (LSE: ENQ) both saw their share values head higher in Monday business following news of acquisition activity in the North Sea.

Enquest announced it had purchased an extra 10.5% holding in the Kraken development from First Oil, taking its total stake in the asset to 70.5%. As part of the deal Enquest will waive its right to claw back $7m worth of cash calls paid on behalf of First Oil.

Meanwhile, Cairn Energy has increased its stake in Kraken to 29.5% after its Nautical Petroleum subsidiary purchased an extra 4.5% worth of shares from First Oil.

The Kraken development is undoubtedly a terrific offshore asset, and its estimated 25-year life is due to kick off with maiden production during the first half of 2017. But I believe the fragile state of the broader oil market still makes Enquest and Cairn Energy unattractive picks at the present time.

Sure, talks between certain OPEC nations and Russia concerning future output are a step in the right direction. But the political and commercial obstacles in place remain colossal, and I certainly wouldn’t place a wager on a deal being hammered out any time soon.

And with global demand indicators steadily disappointing, I believe the risks continue to outweigh the potential rewards at Cairn Energy and Enquest as subdued revenues and huge capex costs endure. The City expects both firms to experience further losses in 2016, and I don’t foresee either firm flipping into the black any time soon.

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Royston Wild 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.