Should you buy Smith & Nephew plc, eSure plc and RSA Insurance Group plc following today’s updates?

Today I’m focusing the microscope on three big-cap headline makers.

Joints giant

Limb-and-joint builder Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN) was recently dealing 3% lower in Thursday business after the firm’s latest update disappointed the market.

The medical giant advised that revenues edged 3% higher during January-March, to $1.14bn. While Smith & Nephew saw sales in established regions rise 6% — underpinned by an 8% demand surge in the US — the company is suffering from worsening conditions in emerging markets.

Indeed, sales to these regions dipped 6% during the quarter, with Smith & Nephew commenting that “double-digit growth in most countries [was] offset by continued weakness in China and significant slow-down in tendering and sales in oil-dependent Gulf states.”

Despite these current problems, however, I believe Smith & Nephew remains a solid growth stock. Shrewd acquisitions have boosted the firm’s already-robust position in the artificial limbs and robotic surgery segments, and I expect demand to gallop in the coming years along with global healthcare investment.

And a prospective P/E rating of 19.2 times represents a decent-if-unspectacular level in which to latch onto the firm’s hot earnings outlook, in my opinion.

Premiums punch higher

Latest trading news from car insurance specialist eSure (LSE: ESUR) was far more cheery, and the stock was recently 3% higher from Wednesday’s close.

The business advised that gross written premiums shot 15.5% higher during January-March, to £151m, with gross written premiums in its Motor division leaping 17.1%, to £128.9m.

But it was the firm’s price comparison channel that stole the headlines, with the division’s new advertising campaigns helping to power revenues 19% higher, to £36.3m. The business expects profits at the unit to leap between 20% and 30% in 2016, it added.

Rising premiums across the insurance industry are clearly playing into eSure’s hands, while massive brand investment is also paying off handsomely. The City expects earnings to begin charging higher again from this year onwards, making a P/E rating of 14.4 times for 2016 appear excellent value for money.

Streamlining success

Fellow insurance play RSA Insurance (LSE: RSA) was also in the green on Thursday, the company up 2% after signs that restructuring continues to deliver the goods.

Although group net written premiums were flat between January and March, RSA advised that this was the result of divestments made over the past year. Instead, it was news that core net written premiums increased 8% during the period that set champagne corks popping, with underlying trends in its critical UK and Irish markets performing ahead of expectations.

All is not quite rosy, however, and chief executive Stephen Hester advised that “the external environment is challenging, characterised by slow growth, competition and volatile financial markets.”

Still, the impact of RSA Insurance’s streamlining drive is helping to drag down costs, while asset shedding should enable it to more effectively service the needs of its core markets in the years ahead. I therefore reckon a prospective P/E rating of 13.8 times provides great value.

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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.