Thursday tips round-up: Hunting, Vodafone, Anite...

Date: Thursday 30 Jun 2011

Thursday tips round-up: Hunting, Vodafone, Anite...

Hunting's global reach has always been among its chief attractions, in our view. And it was on show yesterday, when the oil and gas services group posted an update ahead of its half-yearly results in August. Thanks to its international reach, the group said it was well placed to capitalise on the recent uptick in activity in the oil services market. But although positive, cautious investors would no doubt ask if it is worth buying now that the stock is up more than 20 per cent since the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2010? However, given the momentum in the oil services market, the continued strength in the oil price and the expectations of a strong performance in the second half, we see no reason to sell or sit on the fence, says the Independent.

As early as today, Vodafone could wrap up the last of five housekeeping measures put in train by Vittorio Colao, its chief executive, designed to exit where it does not have a strong presence and tidy up the balance sheet in preparation for returning cash to shareholders. Poland’s second-richest man, the media tycoon Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, is in exclusive talks to buy the country’s mobile operator Polkomtel, in a deal that would value Vodafone’s 24.4 per cent stake at £1 billion.

Poland means a clean sweep for Mr Colao’s wish list, disregarding a few small stakes here and there. There remains one more imponderable, the 45 per cent stake in Verizon, the American network. Vodafone has held this, without any cash return, since 2005. Vodafone shares, which traditionally have provided a good income, now yield a prospective 5.8 per cent. The completion of Mr Colao’s spring cleaning could give them a further impetus, suggests the Times.

Anite provides an invaluable service to phone manufacturers and operators, as it tests to check whether their shiny new kit is any good or not. After a strong financial year, the company is looking to push on, and there are plenty of catalysts suggesting it is worth a look. Yesterday, the group said pre-tax profits were up 62 per cent in the 12 months to the end of April to £16m. Over the same period revenues rose by almost a fifth to £93.7m. Altium Securities puts the stock on a multiple of 15 times forward earnings for 2012 and reckons it will be pushed higher by 4G wins. We agree. Buy, recommends the Independent.

Things you didn’t know about the cinema: while classy films such as The King’s Speech appeal to an older audience and may be more culturally significant than, say, the latest in the Transformers franchise, such audiences don’t spend as much on food and drink as younger cinemagoers. This isn’t terribly good for the cinema owners. Cineworld Group, one of Britain’s three big cinema chains, said that total revenues were flat in the first half of 2011.

The problem was that this year’s output, including Colin Firth, was up against popcorn movies such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland last time, both huge successes in 3-D. The second half looks promising, with several blockbusters looming, including the last Harry Potter, but the shares, on about ten times this year’s earnings, look about where they should be for now, the Times says.

The past year has proved rather volatile for Photo-Me, with its share price moving from 30p to more than 80p by September before more than halving six months later. The company has been on the rise since then, however, moving up by 7.25p to 63p yesterday after its full-year results. Last night's gain means that it is now up about 60 per cent in less than three months. The figures were certainly positive, with the group – which operates photo booths around the world – managing a 28 per cent rise in underlying profits. Moreover, the company's bullish comments about the year ahead bode well, and with these figures prompting analysts to raise their expectations, Photo-Me could prove a pretty picture for investors. Now is a good time to wade in, suggests the Independent, which recommends a buy.


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