Earlier this week, I picked out three FTSE 100 stocks I’d consider buying with my £20,000 ISA allowance. Today, I’m focusing on two smaller UK shares — one of which I already own — which would also make the cut. As luck would have it, both have just released positive news to the market.
Hot UK share
Today’s full-year results from kettle safety control supplier Strix (LSE: KETL) go some way to reminding me why I’m already invested in this wonderfully ‘boring’ company.
While revenue fell 1.6% to £95.3m over 2020, this was “significantly ahead” of what Strix believed might happen because of Covid-19. This was due to a “marked recovery” in the second half of the year.
Moving to the bottom line, pre-tax profit climbed 2.4% to £30.9m. Although a 41.2% rise in net debt (to £37.2m) would usually cause me concern, the reasons for this increase look sound. Over 2020, Strix acquired water filter firm LAICA and spent money on its manufacturing operations in China.
Comments on Strix’s outlook were also encouraging. Today, CEO Mark Bartlett reflected that the “much-improved performance” in the second half of last year had carried on into this year. A strong order book for kettle safety controls and the launch of new products suggests the Isle of Man-based business will enjoy a better 2021.
Ironically, my one concern with this UK share is that its share price has more than doubled over the past year. This leaves it trading on a valuation of 17 times forecast earnings. That’s not excessive. But it’s vastly different from the single-digit P/E valuation the AIM-listed company had when I first began investing in it.
I do wonder if we might see a wave of profit-taking over the next few weeks and months. This could be compounded by the trend for investors to move away from defensive stocks (which Strix arguably is) and into battered travel and leisure shares.
As such, I’m inclined to add to my holding gradually over the next few months.
Another stock I’d feel comfortable spending some of my ISA allowance on is Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury (LSE: BMY).
In another positive trading update, the UK small-cap announced profit for the year to the end of February will now be “significantly ahead” of the £14.8m expected by the market. This follows an “exceptional sales performance” last month as millions of us sought to pass the time by reading. In addition, Bloomsbury also saw an increase in demand for remote access to learning materials by academic institutions.
As great as this is, the shares aren’t devoid of risk. Even the company has no idea whether recent performance will continue once restrictions are lifted. Like Strix, Bloomsbury also traded on 17 times forecast earnings before markets opened. It will be even higher after today’s 7%+ share price rise. Again, this isn’t an absurd valuation. However, it does imply that some (much?) of the good news is now priced in.
Still, I remain a fan of this company. It might not grab the headlines like other UK shares, but I think that’s part of the appeal. Another is the £54m in net cash Bloomsbury had on its balance sheet at end of February.
Should shares fall back, I’ll be ready with at least some of my ISA allowance.
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Paul Summers owns shares of Strix Group. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Bloomsbury Publishing. 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.