Companies are certainly feeling the impacts of erratic oil and commodities prices, as well as the fallout from last June’s Brexit vote. But does that throw up some investment opportunities? Here’s a look at three first-half reports released today.
An oil comeback?
Back when Soco International (LSE: SIA) released full-year results in March 2015, the Vietnam-focused explorer’s share price was already being hit by the falling price of oil — but it plummeted further on the day and has remained low ever since.
Today we’ve had the latest first-half figures, revealing a net loss of $12.2m (from a $5.9m profit at the same stage last year). The shares have dipped a modest 1% to 150p as a result, but we’re still looking at a 29% gain since the beginning of June. Soco’s key strength is its very low cash operating costs of only $10 per barrel, so oil falling back to $40 levels is nowhere near the headache it is for some other oil explorers.
Chief executive Ed Story described the company as “operationally and financially robust throughout the first half of 2016,” and reckons Soco’s debt-free balance sheet and steady cash flows, coupled with those low costs, bode for a “confident and positive outlook” for the second half. There’s likely to be only modest earnings per share this year, but a big rise forecast for 2017 could make Soco one of the safer buys among smaller oilies today.
Shares in iron ore pellet producer Ferrexpo (LSE: FXPO) have fallen heavily in recent years, but they’re up 4.5% today to 54p on the back of an upbeat first-half report — and the price has more than trebled since 2016’s low point in January.
Chairman Michael Abrahams spoke of “a good set of financial results given the challenging circumstances in the iron ore industry.” Sales volumes rose by 6% to 6m tonnes, although pre-tax profit (excluding exceptionals) dropped 11% to $92m. A 61% rise in net cash flow led to a 15% fall in net debt, to $753m.
Depressed iron ore prices are expected to contribute to a 22% fall in earnings per share this year with a larger 45% fall on the cards for 2017. But that’s already included in very low P/E multiples, of just 3.7 for this year and 6.7 next, which suggest Ferrexpo could be a nice earner should commodity prices see any kind of serious recovery.
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (LSE: MLC) saw its shares drop 1.7% to 414p after chairman Kwek Leng Beng said the company is “disappointed by our hotel operating performance during the first half of 2016,” adding that the Brexit vote together with recent terrorist activity has also contributed to economic uncertainty.
First-half revenue per available room fell by 0.5% (4.2% at constant currency) to £67.91, with overall hotel revenue down 1.4% to £360m. Earnings per share dropped 17% to 9.3p, but the interim dividend was maintained at 2.08p per share.
After a couple of years of falling earnings, analysts had been forecasting a 20% recovery this year, valuing the shares at 17.4 times expected EPS. In the light of today’s figures, I wouldn’t be surprised to see forecasts adjusted downwards. Millennium & Copthorne doesn’t look like a bargain to me.
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Alan Oscroft 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.