Shares in motor retail specialist Lookers (LSE: LOOK) have soared by over 6% today after it released an upbeat first quarter update. Encouragingly, Lookers was able to increase gross profit from new cars by 5% on a like-for-like (LFL) basis, while used cars gross profit rose by 7% on a LFL basis. And with Lookers’ aftersales business recording an increase in LFL sales of 7%, the company is on track to meet full-year expectations.
Those expectations are for a rise in earnings of 7% versus the prior year. And with Lookers expected to post a rise in its bottom line of 6% next year, investor sentiment could pick up in the coming months and push the company’s share price higher. That’s especially the case since Lookers trades on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of just 1.3, which indicates that its shares offer strong growth prospects at a very reasonable price. As such, now seems to be an opportune moment to buy them for the long term.
Shares up despite losses
Also among today’s major gainers are shares in Speedy Hire (LSE: SDY). They’ve risen by over 7% despite the company releasing a rather disappointing set of results for the year to 31 March. They show that the tool and equipment hire company has gone from a pre-tax profit of £2m in the previous year to a loss of over £57m as a result of almost £60m in exceptional administrative costs. These were made up of impairments and restructuring charges, while Speedy Hire also finalised the rollout of its new network structure. With these one-off costs excluded, Speedy Hire remained in the black.
Looking ahead, Speedy Hire is expected to increase its adjusted profit by 88% in the current year and by 71% next year as its new strategy starts to take hold. Although there’s a significant risk that its turnaround plans disappoint, Speedy Hire seems to have a sufficiently wide margin of safety to merit investment at the present time. Evidence of that can be seen in its PEG ratio, which stands at just 0.2 and indicates that the company’s shares could continue today’s rise.
Georgia on my mind
Meanwhile, Georgia Healthcare (LSE: GHG) is up by 18% today after it reported a strong set of first quarter results. Its pre-tax profit increased by 84% to over £2m, while its top line rose by around a third versus the same quarter of the previous year. This was at least partly due to improved performance in the company’s healthcare services segment, with an improving macroeconomic performance from the Georgian economy and favourable currency movements also having a positive impact on the company’s results.
With Georgia Healthcare on track to post a significant rise in profitability this year, investor sentiment could continue to improve. And with the company’s bottom line forecast to rise by 42% next year, now could be an opportune moment to buy – especially with the company’s shares trading on a PEG ratio of only 0.4.
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Peter Stephens 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.