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Vodafone Group plc vs easyJet plc: which falling knife should you catch?

Mobile mammoth Vodafone Group (LSE: VOD) has been subject to share price weakness in recent weeks as fears of moderating revenue growth have intensified. Indeed, the stock has fallen 8% in the past month.

Vodafone’s third-quarter statement released in early February certainly lent weight to these concerns. The London business advised that organic service revenues in its core European marketplace advanced 0.7% during October-December, slowing from 1% in the prior quarter.

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Meanwhile, Vodafone saw organic services revenues its growth in the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific (AMAP) region stuttering to 3.9% during the third quarter, slowing markedly from sales growth of 7.7% and 7.1% during quarters one and two respectively.

Of particular concern will be the recent underperformance in India, the fastest-growing mobile market in Asia. Indeed, sales here dipped 1.9% in October-December as local competitor Reliance Jio’s cut-price deals chipped away at its customer base.

This has forced Vodafone into drastic action to claw back customers, including floating the idea of merging its operations with Idea Cellular to create the country’s largest mobile phone operator. And the British business announced today that its 4G rollout in India will take in Goa and Chennai in the coming months.

And Vodafone may be forced to dole out even more in organic investment and M&A activities to put a jolt back into the top line.

A high forward P/E ratio of 35.8 times may put off some investors, while fears of huge capex bills have also raised speculation that the era of super dividend growth may also be drawing to a close.

Having said that, the subsequent rewards of increased investment at Vodafone could be explosive, particularly in emerging regions as rising wealth levels are likely to keep driving mobile services demand through the roof. I reckon the telecoms titan remains an engaging growth selection.

Brace for turbulence

Budget flyer easyJet (LSE: EZJ) has also sunk during the past four weeks, a 6% decline illustrating rising fears over the health of the travel sector.

The latest downleg has been prompted by easyJet’s warning last month that sustained sterling weakness and increasing fuel costs were £35m worse than predicted, and that currency pressures alone will take £105m off the bottom line in the current fiscal year.

This is not the only disappointing update the Luton flyer has released in recent months, of course, and the potential for more bad news in the coming months is strong. And this could spell more share price trouble, naturally.

However, I maintain my bullish long-term stance on easyJet. While competition in the budget segment is rising, the size of the overall pie continues to grow as travellers increasingly demand more bang for their buck. Besides, easyJet is aggressively expanding to bolster its position in the marketplace, steps that helped passenger growth detonate 8.2% during October-December.

I reckon a prospective P/E ratio of 12.3 times is a decent level at which to latch onto easyJet’s favourable growth story.

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Royston Wild 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.