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Are Amec Foster Wheeler PLC, Fenner plc & Character Group plc a buy after today’s results?

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Shares in oil and energy services firm Amec Foster Wheeler (LSE: AMFW) edged higher this morning after the group said it had appointed a new CEO.

New boss Jonathan Lewis will join the company in June from US services giant Halliburton, where he’s currently a Senior Vice President. Given that Amec’s $3.2bn acquisition of US contracting firm Foster Wheeler is still weighing on the group’s results, Dr Lewis’s experience in the US oil services sector should be useful.

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Amec also issued a trading update today. The group said that the oil and gas market remains tough but confirmed its guidance for 2016. This suggests it will deliver full-year adjusted earnings of 52.5p per share this year, putting the stock on a forecast P/E of 9.3.

This could be good value, if Amec can deliver on plans to halve its £1bn net debt by selling non-core assets.

Spending cuts bite hard

Engineering firm Fenner (LSE: FENR) has also been hit hard by spending cuts at big oil and mining firms. Demand for Fenner’s industrial rubber belts and other such items is much lower than it used to be.

Fenner said today that underlying operating profit fell by 48% to £15m during the six months to 29 February, while revenue was 20% lower at £276.8m.

The interim dividend has been cut by 75% from 4p to just 1p, although this was largely expected. Today’s guidance suggests the firm will pay a final dividend of 2p, for a total payout of 3p per share. That’s equivalent to a yield of 2.3% at the current share price of 131p.

One bright spot was that operating cash flow rose slightly to £19.1m, from £18.5m last year. This suggests that Fenner’s cost-cutting and restructuring is starting to work.

As a long-term shareholder I remain underwater, but have no plans to sell. Fenner’s medical business is continuing to perform well and forecasts suggest that profits should bottom out this year and start to recover in 2017.

Toys beat mining

One firm that has performed outperformed most commodity stocks over the last couple of years is toy manufacturer Character Group (LSE: CCT).

Character’s share price has risen by 183% since May 2014, but the shares have been pretty flat since last August. Is the firm’s growth slowing?

Today’s results show that revenue rose by 12% to £65.2m during the first half of the year, while underlying operating profit rose by 20.8% to £8.7m. However, reported operating profit only rose by 1.1% and was £8.8m.

The difference between Character’s underlying and reported profits relates to exchange rate effects. Most of the group’s purchasing is done in US dollars, but it reports in pounds sterling. During the first half of last year, currency effects boosted Character’s profits by £1.5m. This year, the equivalent figure was just £0.1m. This is why reported profits were flat during the first half of this year, despite sales rising by 12%.

In my view, investors should focus on the sales figures for Character. With the shares on 11 times 2016 forecast earnings and offering a forecast yield of 2.3%, I don’t see any reason to sell just yet.

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Roland Head owns shares of Fenner. 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.

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