Todays third quarter update from travel company Thomas Cook (LSE: TCG) was rather mixed. On the one hand, trading conditions remain challenging after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul. However, on the other hand Thomas Cook has performed relatively well given the operating environment and is on track to meet full-year expectations.
The company reported a rise in revenue of 1% versus the same time period last year, with an improved gross margin also helping its underlying operating loss to narrow by 11% to 49m. And with robust customer demand in the UK and Northern Europe, the company has been able to offset weakness in Continental Europe and the Airlines Germany division. As such, its medium term outlook remains positive especially since Thomas Cook has sold 82% of programmes in its winter trading period, broadly the same as at a similar stage last year.
With Thomas Cook trading on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 8.4, it offers excellent value for money when its earnings growth forecast of 27% for the current year is taken into account. Certainly, further economic uncertainty is likely, but the companys risk/reward ratio is appealing and todays update confirms that it could be a strong buy for the long term.
Also reporting today was residential landlord Grainger (LSE: GRI). It continues to experience high demand for its wholly-owned and managed UK private rented sector homes, with there also being positive growth in regulated tenancy rents in the four months to January 31. For example, rental increases in the year for owned and managed private rented sector homes averaged 7.8% on new lets and 3.6% on renewals, with increases for regulated tenancy assets rising by 6.3%.
Despite this, Grainger is still set to report a fall in its bottom line of 24% in the current year. This puts it on a forward P/E ratio of 27.1 and a yield of only 1.4%. Certainly, theres scope for further rises in rental income moving forward and the company has a sound strategy, particularly regarding its investment in the private rented sector. However, its shares appear to be overvalued in a cheap market, thereby making other stocks more appealing.
Risk and rewards
Meanwhile, Solo Oil (LSE: SOLO) has today announced an increase in its interest in the Kiliwani North Development Licence (KNDL) to 10%. Solo Oil currently has a 6.2% interest in the KNDL and will pay $2.16m to exercise its option and increase its holding. Solo Oil will pay $500k initially, with the balance due to be paid by the end of April 2016.
The deal appears to be an obvious move for the company and with gas production at the Kiliwani North-1 well expected to startshortly, theres the potential for improved investor sentiment in Solo Oil following its share price fall of 28% in the last three months. And with it having relatively appealing geographical diversity via its interests in Africa, the UK and North America, it could prove to be a strong long-term performer. However, it continues to be a relatively high risk play due in part to its size, so may only be worthy of a closer look for less risk-averse investors.
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