Shares in bookmaker Ladbrokes (LSE: LAD) have surged by over 6% today after it released a rather mixed update. While the company recorded a loss in the 2015 financial year due in part to exceptional costs and the effects of around 50m ofhigher gambling taxes, it also stated that its on track to meet its 2016 financial targets.
This seems to have been well-received by the market, with Ladbrokes still in the relatively early days of its new strategy thatwas announced last July. However, the company is expected to return to profit this year and with the merger with Coral on track, it would be of little surprise for the companys share price to rise over the medium term in anticipation of improved financial performance.
Yetwith Ladbrokes trading on a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 20.2, there seem to be better options elsewhere. Thats especially the case since theres a risk that Ladbrokes experiences delays in turning its financial performance around.
Successful but expensive
Also reporting today was chemicals company Croda (LSE: CRDA). Its shares are currently up by over 4% as it recorded a rise in adjusted pre-tax profit of 8.8% in the 2015 financial year, with bothsales and pre-tax profit reaching record levels. This was at least partly due to the impact of the companys focus on innovation, with new and protected products growing at four times underlying sales and representing 26.1% of total sales.
Looking ahead, Croda expects trading conditions to remain challenging but remains on track to meet guidance for 2016. However, with its shares trading on a forward P/E ratio of 20.7, it seems to be rather expensive given that a number of its index peers are trading on relatively low valuations at the present time. As such, and while Croda is a high quality business with a bright future, it may be best to wait for a keener share price before piling-in.
Price rises ahead
Meanwhile, shares in Image Scan Holdings (LSE: IGE) have soared by over 20% today following the release of a positive trading update. The company has reported that over 1m of new orders have been added to the 600k of orders carried forward from the prior year, with multi-unit orders having been received for the newly released portable X-ray systems from two Asian customers.
Furthermore, Image Scan has reported a continued strengthening of its industrial order book, with ongoing investment in research and development highlighting the companys long term future growth potential. It remains optimistic regarding its first half performance and is looking for continued strong order intake to support the second half of the year. As such, its shares could continue to increase in price in the coming months and may be worth a closer look for less risk-averse investors.
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