Shares of Majestic Wines (LSE: WINE) moved 5% higher in the first half hour of trading this morning, after the wine retailer said that sales rose by 41.3% to £402.1m last year.
The increase is mostly the result of last year’s acquisition of online start-up Naked Wines, where sales hit £100m for the first time last year. Like-for-like-sales from Majestic’s retail stores rose by a more modest 4.8% — although this was the first increase for four years.
However, last year’s growth came at a price. Majestic’s adjusted pre-tax profit fell by 30% to £15m in 2015/16. The group says that this is the result of IT upgrades and acquisition costs. A new dividend policy targeting a payout of 35% of adjusted earnings is due to start this year.
The message from Majestic today is that investment in marketing and technology will deliver long-term benefits. I’m tempted to agree. Today’s results look reasonable and the firm’s 2019 sales target of £500m seems achievable.
However, at 460p, Majestic trades on a 2017 forecast P/E of 27. I’d wait for the next dip down before buying.
Oil bankruptcy risk?
North Sea oil operator Enquest (LSE: ENQ) climbed 12% this morning after issuing a statement denying a weekend report in The Telegraph. The article suggested Enquest may be in discussions with the North Sea regulator regarding bankruptcy plans.
Enquest is the operator and lead developer of the Kraken project, which is due to start producing oil next year. But the group has net debt of $1.63bn and is expected to report an increased loss of $68m in 2017 after its current hedging provisions expire at the end of this year. If oil prices remain under $60, then as things stand Enquest could see a notable reduction in cash flow in 2017.
In my view, Enquest’s high debt levels represent a big risk to equity investors. There’s still a real possibility that the firm will have to raise cash by issuing new shares. This could be highly dilutive for shareholders.
In my view, there are better options elsewhere in the oil sector.
Should you follow director dealing?
Shares of Hikma Pharmaceuticals (LSE: HIK) have risen by 126% over the last three years. They’re currently within 15% of last year’s all-time high of 2,520p. Given this strong performance, it’s interesting to note that at least one key director, chairman and chief executive officer Said Darwazah, is still bullish on the stock.
Mr Darwazah spent £1.52m on Hikma shares last week, increasing his stake in the firm to 5.55%. Although the purchase is small relative to the £289m value of Mr Darwazah’s total holding, it looks positive to me.
Hikma’s adjusted earnings per share are expected to fall 12% to $1.24 this year, before rising by 35% to $1.68 per share in 2017. The firm’s current share price of 2,179p puts the stock on a 2017 forecast P/E of 18 and gives Hikma a forecast PEG ratio of 0.8.
The PEG — or price-to-earnings growth ratio — was a favoured indicator of legendary growth investor Jim Slater. Shares with a PEG ratio of less than one were said to be attractively priced. Analysts rate Hikma as a buy or a strong buy. I believe Hikma could deliver further gains from current levels.
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Roland Head has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Hikma Pharmaceuticals and Majestic Wine. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.