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Wednesday tips round-up: Menzies, Highland Gold, Vitec

Date: Wednesday 17 Aug 2011

Wednesday tips round-up: Menzies, Highland Gold, Vitec

John Menzies may be remembered as a rival newsagent to WH Smith, but the company has spent the past decade transforming itself into an airline services business. The Edinburgh company’s first-half results proved to be a landmark date in that transition, as it was the first time that profits at its cargo and baggage-handling division outstripped those of its newspaper and magazine distribution arm. John Menzies sits at a lowly rating of less than seven times 2011 forecasts, which seems too low, according to the Times.

Similarly, the Independent says that at just over seven times forward earnings, John Menzies looks downright cheap. Buy, the newspaper says.

Gold prices have been on an upward trend for some time now, but the recent spike stands out, with the yellow metal setting a string of new records in recent weeks. Highland Gold, however, has not rallied in tandem. Indeed, its shares are well below the recent peak of 199.5p struck in December. In a trading update yesterday the group, which operates in Russia, announced it had managed an 8% jump in its first-half production. Ahead of the group's half-year results next month, Highland, with its strong balance sheet and its previously stated desire to make acquisitions, seems a steady prospect. Buy, says the Independent.

Vitec has returned to its roots after winning a first contract to supply cameras for use in military drones in a deal that adds to the company’s growing list of clients that use miniature transmitters and receivers in flight. The company turned in a decent set of interim results with revenues up 13% to £172m, while pre-tax profits leapt by a fifth to £15m. With the stock trading at ten times Investec’s forecasts for next year, investors should be able to capture value, the Times says.

Oil group Petroceltic has no production and is active in Algeria and the Kurdish region of Iraq, neither of which are easy places to do business. But it’s not all bad news. Such pure exploration companies raise most of their money to finance their drilling programmes by issuing shares. Raising equity in the current climate would be extremely dilutive. Fortunately Petroceltic raised $60m in May. Long-term investors could be rewarded for their patience when the market recovers. But in the meantime, it will be a very bumpy ride, says the Times.

The last few months have not proved happy for investors in Guernsey-based Resolution, whose vainglorious bid to create a UK super insurer is not looking so super any more. It now looks like the target of reaching £10bn in terms of market capitalisation was wildly over-ambitious.

While the valuation metrics might look attractive, the fact that Resolution is basically a bit of a ragbag of second-tier life insurers cannot be overlooked. The most obvious comparator is Legal & General, which produced an excellent set of results recently and is very much a top-tier player. If we had to pick one of the two as a home for savings, L&G would win out. The same goes for the shares. Resolution is a sell, says the Independent.

Please note: Digital Look provides a round-up of news, tips and information that is impacting share prices and the market. Digital Look cannot take any responsibility for information provided by third parties. This is for your general information only as not intended to be relied upon by users in making an investment decision or any other decision. Please obtain a copy of the relevant publication and carry out your own research before considering acting on any of this information.

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