LONDON -- The FTSE 100 was pretty flat again in July, ending the month on 5,635 -- just 64 points (1%) up on June's close of 5,571. That's largely a result of decent interim reports offset by swinging sentiment regarding Europe.
But regardless of where the index is going, July had its share of market rock stars. These companies not only saw their share prices rise but seem poised for strong long-term performance.
SuperGroup shares ended July at 417 pence, up 24% from 337 pence at the end of June. However, they're still far down from their 52-week high of 1,136 pence.
The long-term collapse was in part due to a series of profit warnings caused by woeful accounting mistakes, which the company confessed to in its annual report -- but the price had been badly overhyped for the past couple of years.
Annual results showed a 32% rise in sales, with 26 new stores opening during the year and like-for-like sales up 2%. Internet sales are growing and accounted for 10% of sales, and that echoes the success enjoyed by ASOS, which has been a pioneer of successful online fashion sales. We also saw online sales growing nicely at Next, which is arguably our best-run high-street fashion retailer.
Forecasts for SuperGroup put the shares on a prospective price-to-earnings ratio of about nine for next year, falling to eight for 2014. And though there isn't much of a dividend yet, that gives the impression this recovery is not over.
Homeserve is looking like another recovery candidate, as it put on 52 pence for a 33% rise to 208 pence during July.
The home disaster insurance provider was trashed after the Financial Services Authority launched an investigation into possible mis-selling, and it was forced to stop writing new business for a while. But it's looking increasingly likely that the sell-off was overdone: The shares have recovered from a low of 137.5 pence reached in June.
Recent forecasts suggests earnings per share for 2013 of about 23 pence and a dividend of 11.3 pence, with 2014 estimates about the same. That's a P/E of nine, with a dividend yield of 5.4%, which does not seem an overvaluation.
Keller Group climbed 29% from June's 361.5 pence closing price to end July at 466 pence. We expected strong interim results from the ground engineer, and it did not disappoint on July 30, announcing a 13% rise in revenue and a tripling of pretax profit to 11 million pounds.
Full-year profit is expected to be at the top end of forecasts, and we're looking at a dividend of 5.2% for 2012, rising to 5.3% by December 2013.
The interim net debt figure stood at 119 million pounds, but that was down on last year's half-time level of 128 million pounds and represents 1.5 times annualized EBITDA. On those measures it doesn't look too bad, but it's still around 40% of the company's market cap. Still, those dividends do suggest the shares are cheap.
Engineer GKN gained 16.5% over the month to end on 210.4 pence.
On July 31, the firm announced interim sales up 16% to 3.46 billion pounds and pretax profit up 43% to 289 million pounds, driven largely by its auto divisions. That allowed the firm to lift its half-time dividend by 20% to 2.4 pence per share, and if that continues at the full-year stage, we should expect a yield of around 3.4%.
Earlier we heard of GKN's acquisition of AB Volvo's aero engine division for 633 million pounds, which was widely considered a nice price. The deal will mean that GKN makes parts for all of the world's major aero engine manufacturers. And with increases in both air passenger and freight air traffic forecasts, as well as growing demand for a new generation of energy-efficient power plants, GKN's long-term prospects look good.
In July, Computacenter shares started to recover from their recent slump. From a 2012 high of 448 pence in March, the price slid to a low of 292 pence near the end of June before putting on 21% over the month to end July at 354 pence.
The IT services contractor's interim trading update on July 17 revealed Group revenue up 4% in the first half, with group services revenue up 12%. The company is also in a strong net cash position, and although some European business has been tough, the firm is sticking with its positive guidance for the full year.
And Computacenter is paying strongly growing dividends, which it just keeps raising year on year. With shares on a P/E of about nine and forecast yields of 4.5% for this year and 4.9% for the next, I think we're looking at a bargain.
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