Today’s update from transport specialist FirstGroup (LSE: FGP) is somewhat mixed. On the one hand, some of its divisions performed well, while other saw sales declines. Notably, FirstGroup’s Greyhound division’s like-for-like (LFL) sales fell by 5%, while its First Bus LFL sales were down 1.4%.
While that’s disappointing, FirstGroup traded in line with expectations during the first quarter of the year thanks to positive performance from its other divisions. Still, its top line fell by 1.4% at constant currency and this could be a reason why its shares are down by 1.5% on the day.
Looking ahead, FirstGroup remains upbeat about its longer-term prospects, although it cautions against investors becoming optimistic about its international exposure. Any gains from weaker sterling are likely to be offset by weak UK economic performance and it’s against this backdrop that FirstGroup seems to be valued by the market. It has a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 0.5 and this indicates that it offers a sufficiently wide margin of safety to make it a buy at the present time.
Also reporting today was DCC (LSE: DCC). The international business support services company’s operating profit in the first quarter was significantly ahead of the same period last year. Furthermore, it was modestly above expectations, driven by the performance of DCC Energy in particular which benefitted from acquisitions completed during the prior year as well as upbeat organic growth.
Encouragingly, DCC’s Technology division benefitted from cost saving initiatives implemented in the previous year, while DCC’s HealthCare and Environmental divisions continued to be strong. This performance is set to be reflected in DCC’s full-year results, with the company on track to post a rise in earnings of 9% this year and a further 4% next year.
However, with its shares trading on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 6, this growth appears to be more than adequately priced-in to its current valuation. As such, and while DCC is a relatively sound business, there may be better options on offer elsewhere for long-term investors.
Upbeat growth prospects
Meanwhile, Homeserve (LSE: HSV) has released a quarterly update, which shows that it’s trading in line with expectations. It continues to build its long-term growth prospects in the US, completing the acquisition of Utility Services Partners this month, which adds 0.4m customers to its customer base in America.
Homeserve continues to offer upbeat growth prospects. Its bottom line is due to rise by 9% this year and by a further 18% next year. This puts it on a PEG ratio of just 1, which indicates that it offers considerable upward rerating potential as well as a wide margin of safety. And while Homeserve yields just 2.6%, its dividends are covered 1.7 times by profit. This indicates that there’s scope for a brisk rise in shareholder payouts over the medium-to-long term.
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Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Homeserve. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.