Avast last week announced that after a strong first half it expects its like-for-like revenue to increase by high single-digits in 2019. This was at the upper end of what it had previously outlined, so is a good outcome for investors. Alongside this positive news, which sent the shares higher, there were results that showed reported pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of June at $186m, an increase of 14% on the corresponding period a year ago.
Compared to its technology peers, Avast despite its growth and profitability, has a share price which is quite cheap. The P/E is around 13 so comfortably below the number that is usually considered good value (generally seen as 15). For comparison, another cybersecurity company, Sophos, has a P/E of 32.
There’s also a significant opportunity for dividend growth. Dividend cover is more than three so there is plenty of room for it to grow in the future, especially if, as expected, earnings per share grow. A more enticing dividend ought to also have the benefit of pushing up the share price as more investors are attracted to the stock. And that value value, plus the potential for growth, makes me see Avast as a prime candidate to add to a Stocks and Shares ISA.
Mega bank Lloyds (LSE: LLOY) is starting to look more and more appealing as an investment to me, even though some would disagree. The bank is becoming increasingly digital, which will help strip out costs and help towards making it more profitable, which is good for shareholders. The bank is paying attractive dividends and the yield has risen to over 6%. This makes it among the most generous in the FTSE 100.
While it faces challenges – particularly in the form of Brexit as it is UK-focused, and wider economic concerns beyond its control – overall it looks like an appealing investment to me. There is nothing Lloyds can do about the US-China trade war and its impact on the global economy. What it can do, though, is look after investors, increase its profitability and remain focused on UK lending. And this is what it does well.
For a bank, it’s a relatively lean and simple operation, focusing on retail banking instead of the more risky and volatile investment variety, and this is why I think it will do well in the future and enhances a Stocks and Shares ISA.
Lastly, its move into wealth and financial planning should help the bank grow in the future. The move into this area is set to cost the business £3bn, but the rewards could be massive and Lloyds has the advantage of having a nationwide presence and many customers that it can cross-sell these services to. Setting up the wealth management business with an established wealth manager, Schroders, should also help the business to scale up and contribute significantly to profits.
Andy Ross owns shares in Lloyds Banking Group. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Lloyds Banking Group. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.