LONDON -- Has there been a change of investor sentiment at Xcite Energy (LSE: XEL.L ) ? Shares in the AIM-listed North Sea oil and gas group fell a few days ago when it announced pre-production test results from its Bentley operations -- results that exceeded management's prior expectations, but perhaps not investors' wilder hopes.
No matter: Today, the share was back in favor, climbing 7% and comprising the single-most popular purchase by the retail clients of stockbroker TD Direct Investing between the market's opening and noon. The price-to-earnings ratio is still astronomic, of course -- an eye-watering 1,200 -- but the newsflow on several fronts has been promising of late, with positive developments on funding, loan finance, sales of crude oil and management changes. And, of course, successful test drilling.
Also catching investors' eyes was BP (LSE: BP.L ) -- coincidentally, itself a backer of Xcite. The share was the fifth-most popular purchase among TD Direct Investing's retail clients this morning, with sentiment boosted by weekend newsflow regarding the potential sale of BP's Russian oil interests to its AAR oligarch partners.
From a reserves point of view, the move is probably bad news. But from a strategic and governance point of view, I reckon that many investors would welcome it, if the price was right. Relations with the oligarchs have clearly broken down, and the wrangles now threaten to further adversely affect BP's dividends from its Russian TNK-BP subsidiary. But with a forecast P/E of less than seven and a forecast yield of 5.1%, it's clear that I'm not the only one thinking that BP is looking cheap.
Last up: travel operator and airline Thomas Cook (LSE: TCG.L ) , which on Friday announced a late-summer surge in bookings. Back in the early spring, there were doubts over the highly indebted company's survival. Now, with improved finances and customers returning, the prospects for the business are a lot less gloomy.
Up 6% today, Thomas Cook was the eighth-most popular buy among by the retail clients of TD Direct Investing this morning. There's no dividend, but many investors are obviously thinking that a forecast P/E of less than four now looks cheap for a business that seems to be on the mend.
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