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Key stats
Market capitalisation £2,571m
No. of shares out 525m
No. of shares floating 229m
No. of common shareholders not stated
No. of employees 29,776
Trading volume (10 day avg.) 1.7m
Turnover 6,433m
Profit before tax 465m
Earnings per share 92.17p
Cashflow per share 142.89p
Cash per share 110.38p

Buy ‘unloved’ Travis Perkins, says Liberum

Builders’ merchants Travis Perkins (TPK) is still on target to hit full-year numbers and the shares are looking ‘unloved’ and ‘very cheap’, says Liberum.

Analyst Charlie Campbell retained his ‘buy’ recommendation and target price of £15.25 on the stock on third quarter like-for-like sales growth of 4%, in line with expectations. The consumer division held back growth slightly.

‘Management is confident that revenues and progress and cost reduction should ensure that consensus expectations for the full year are met, and also notes a degree of moderation in pricing pressure in Wickes,’ he said.

‘The shares are extremely unloved here and look very cheap.’ They rose 4.1% to £10.20 yesterday.

Key stats
Market capitalisation £8,065m
No. of shares out 184m
No. of shares floating 180m
No. of common shareholders 41,124
No. of employees 52,705
Trading volume (10 day avg.) 0.79m
Turnover 3,295m
Profit before tax 876m
Earnings per share 239.08p
Cashflow per share 364.96p
Cash per share 49.37p

Hargreaves hails ‘slower and steadier’ Whitbread

Whitbread (WTB) has seen revenues rise as it focuses on its Premier Inn brand after scaling back with the sale of Costa Coffee.

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The group announced a 2.6% rise in revenue to £1 billion in the first half of the year. Sales at existing Premier Inn hotels are flat but Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laith Khalaf said that ‘wasn’t to be sniffed at’ given the difficult economic environment. It has also added 14,000 new rooms to its portfolio in the last three years.

‘Whitbread isn’t going to stop their either, with a further 13,000 new rooms in the pipeline, and the introduction of a new super-budget Zip format, which will launch in Cardiff next year.’

He said the real growth opportunity was in Germany, where the hotel market was 35% larger than the UK.

‘That expansion plan will be helped by the cash flowing in from the sale of Costa to Coke for £3.9 billion,’ said Khalaf.

‘Whitbread will be a slower and steadier business once Coke has swallowed Costa.’

The shares fell 1.8% to £43.83 yesterday.

Key stats
Market capitalisation £2,657m
No. of shares out 1,355m
No. of shares floating 832m
No. of common shareholders not stated
No. of employees 2,589
Trading volume (10 day avg.) 7.43m
Turnover 616m
Profit before tax 391m
Earnings per share 15.05p
Cashflow per share 14.44p
Cash per share 16.61p

AJ Bell: Intu bid could get better

A trading update from shopping centre landlord Intu Properties (INTUP) could force up the price of the real estate investment trust (Reit), currently the subject of a bid from a consortium led by its deputy chairman.

The company downgraded its net asset value by 5% from the half year stage after a 3% decline in property values but has pushed through some rent increases that look ‘reasonably resilient’, according to analyst Russ Mould.

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‘Although a firm bid is yet to materialise, 215p is the mooted offer price by a Peel Group-led consortium,’ he said.

However, the fact Intu has increased rents in a tough retail market ‘may lead shareholders to question the generosity of a proposed offer which, adjusted for dividends, comes in at just 210.4p’.

The shares fell 2.7% to 196p yesterday.

Key stats
Market capitalisation £5,236m
No. of shares out 529m
No. of shares floating 487m
No. of common shareholders 5,304
No. of employees 2,014
Trading volume (10 day avg.) 1.58m
Turnover 9,000m
Profit before tax 351m
Earnings per share 27.27p
Cashflow per share 29.09p
Cash per share 51.92p

Numis continues to back ‘resilient’ SJP

Inflows at St James’s Place (SJP) came in slightly lighter than expected but Numis believes shares in the national financial advice group should remain a ‘core long-term’ holding.

Analyst David McCann retained his ‘buy’ recommendation and target price of £15.75 on the stock, after third quarter results showing assets under management growing 10% but slightly below Numis’ estimates. The shares fell 4.6% to 9

86.6p yesterday.

‘We continue to hold SJP in very high regard and believe it should continue to be a core long-term sector holding for many investors,’ said McCann.

‘We believe that the business will continue to demonstrate that it is one of the most consistent and resilient asset gatherers and retainers, regardless of the economic conditions.’

Key stats
Market capitalisation £1,494m
No. of shares out 401m
No. of shares floating 395m
No. of common shareholders not stated
No. of employees 1,736
Trading volume (10 day avg.) 1.29m
Turnover 293m
Profit before tax 100m
Earnings per share 2.96p
Cashflow per share 12.06p
Cash per share 11.43p
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Peel Hunt upgrades Ascential after price falls

Peel Hunt has upgraded Ascential (ASCL) after falls in the media sector created a ‘great entry point’ for the information and events company.

Analyst Malcolm Morgan upgraded his recommendation from ‘add’ to ‘buy’ but reduced the target price from 515p to 485p. The shares were up a penny at 374.2p yesterday.

‘The shares, along with many media companies, have had a torrid summer, falling from a high of 457p in early June to a low of 350p,’ he said.

‘Against a bearish market, concerns over the performance of Medialink and of the provable value of the new e-commerce agencies have overwhelmed the bull case – hence the price fall. However, we see this fall as presenting a great entry point for investors who are more receptive to the idea of buying and growing this type of service.’



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