Have today’s earnings report thrown up some overlooked gems worth closer inspection?
Specialist technology outsourcer Equiniti Group (LSE: EQN) has had a good month, its share price rising nearly 15% in that time, and today’s half-year report has handed it a further lift. Revenue growth was a decent 5.9%, with organic revenue growth of 4.3%. It also reported 12% revenue growth from cross-selling and up-selling to its top 32 key accounts. Net debt has dropped from £471m to £261m, a fall of 44%, reducing company leveraging from 5.5 to 2.9. Acquisitions have been integrated well.
Equiniti’s profits have benefitted as it has signed longstanding contracts with many of the biggest firms in the country, giving it a broad base of revenue streams. As a share registrar it may benefit from the weaker pound, as this may attract further overseas buyers in the wake of the ARM Holdings deal. The company can perform well in troubled economic times, when many companies raise emergency cash through rights issues. Today, chief executive Guy Wakeley hailed a “strong top line and profit progression whilst reducing leverage.” Forecast earnings per share growth of 12% this year and 9% next, and a valuation of 12.48 times earnings, make the stock worth a look. Especially with the yield forecast to rise from 0.4% today to a more impressive 2.8%.
Paragon of virtue
Property firm Paragon Group of Companies (LSE: PAG) posted a 12.1% rise in underlying profits to £109.9m for the nine months to 30 June. That’ solid growth given that normal trading had been disrupted by the stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let property purchases and by Brexit uncertainty. The referendum result could still swing a nasty surprise, although management said it’s too early to know for sure.
Despite the surcharge, buy-to-let lending for the nine months to 30 June rose 21.2% to £989.6m, although we might expect to see that slow in the future, as landlord caution grows. Paragon’s pipeline has dipped to £339m from £350.6m at the start of the quarter. It has protected itself with a disciplined approach to pricing and credit, hiking minimum affordability tests in January 2016 to reflect looming cuts to landlord tax relief. The buy-to-let market could be bumpy for some time, which is reflected in Paragon’s current valuation of 7.51 times earnings.
Get the power
Energy storage and clean-fuel company ITM Power (LSE: ITM) posted a full-year pre-tax loss of £4.36m this morning, a mild improvement on the £5.72m it lost a year ago, helped by a £300,000 increase in revenue to £1.93m. The £35.79m market cap minnow currently has a total pipeline of £16.32m, with £15.81m of projects under contract and a further £0.51m of contracts in the final stages of negotiation.
Markets responded positively, with the share price up more than 3% in the morning, helping continue the share price recovery of recent months. However, at today’s 16p, it’s still well below its 52-week high of 30p. Clean fuel should be a global growth area and ITM has struck a hydrogen fuel contract with Toyota and a strategic forecourt siting partnership with Shell. In May, ITM hit the headlines by launching London’s first HyFive hydrogen refuelling station and its two working power-to-gas reference plants in Germany are attracting global attention. But early stage technology like this is a risky power play for investors.
Harvey Jones has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended ARM Holdings. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.