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Should you buy Antofagasta plc, CRH plc (UK) and British Polythene Industries plc today?

Today I’m running the rule over three headline makers in Wednesday business.

Construction corker

Construction play CRH (LSE: CRH) was mounting a return towards recent record highs above £20 per share on Wednesday after releasing positive first quarter trading numbers.

CRH — which supplies materials to the building industry — advised that sales ticked 9% higher during January-March, a result that was “largely driven by continued positive momentum in the Americas where the economic and business environment remains favourable.” Indeed, sales here rose 22% during the quarter, while turnover in Asia leapt by an impressive 12%.

CRH said that it expects EBITDA for the seasonally-weak first half to clock in around an impressive €1bn. And the firm expects to gain further traction during the second half of the year as market conditions improve across the globe.

The City expects CRH to record a 73% earnings advance this year alone, resulting in a reasonable P/E rating of 16.8 times. And the number topples to 13.9 times in 2017 thanks to a predicted 21% bottom-line uptick. This is a steal given CRH’s terrific growth outlook.

A manufacturing marvel

Plastic manufacturer British Polythene Industries (LSE: BPI) also greeted the market with reassuring news in midweek trading, the stock marching 8% higher as a result.

British Polythene Industries advised that “trading performance in the first quarter has been strong and ahead of management’s expectations,” the company benefitting from lower power costs as well as favourable currency movements.

And it added a further fillip to investors by advising that the sale of its BPI China unit is now expected to result in a £5m gain, up from the prior estimate of £4m.

Earnings are expected to flatline in 2016, although a 4% bounceback is predicted for 2017. These numbers result in ultra-low earnings multiples of 8.6 times and 8.3 times, respectively. While the business may suffer the impact of economic cooling in the near  term, I reckon such risks are more than baked-into the share price at present.

Expensive excavator

Copper mining colossus Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO) also updated the market Wednesday concerning recent production activity, although a 0.5% share price fall suggests stock pickers weren’t exactly bowled over.

Antofagasta advised that red metal production had risen to 157,100 tonnes in January-March, up 7.3% year-on-year as the business benefitted from the first full quarter of production from its Zaldívar asset, as well as capacity upgrades at the Antucoya facility. Meanwhile, gold output edged 1.8% higher in the period to 56,700 ounces.

Investor appetite for Antofagasta has cooled more recently as fears have surfaced that commodities including copper are now looking overbought. This is a view I certainly subscribe to, thanks to the murky demand picture and relentless stream of capacity ramp-ups affecting many markets.

The City expects earnings at Antofagasta to explode to 12.1 US cents per share in 2016 from 0.6 cents in 2015, resulting in a P/E rating of 64.7 times. I consider such a reading to be ridiculously high given the firm’s massive risk profile, and believe a significant retracement could therefore be just around the corner.

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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.