5 Opportunities for the Week Ahead

LONDON -- We don't have much in the way of full-year results next week, but we do have a handful arriving on Tuesday.

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One of those will be from Smiths News (LSE: NWS.L  ) , whose shares have had a remarkable ride in recent months, putting on more than 40% since the start of July to reach 131 pence.

Part of the reason for that was a strong interim update from the newspaper, magazine, and book wholesaler in July, in which we were told to expect "underlying profit before tax to be at the top end of market range."

The latest forecasts this month suggest a dividend yield of almost 7% from shares on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of only 7, even after the recent price rise, and so near to results day it seems likely that will be close to reality.

Drink up
Spirit Pub Company
(LSE: SPRT.L  ) shares have done well since the split from Punch Taverns, and at 57 pence they're around 50% up on their 12-month low. Preliminary results are due Tuesday and, following on from June's third-quarter update, they should be pretty positive.

At the Q3 stage, like-for-like sales were up 3.7%, with food sales up 6.8%, and the company told us it is on track to meet full-year expectations. Those expectations suggest a 10% growth in earnings per share, with a modest 3.4% dividend from shares on a P/E of 10.

The majority of analysts offering tips are suggesting we buy this one, though salt in large pinches is often taken with such pronouncements. It doesn't look the best bargain around based on short-term figures, but if we're at the start of a recovery in discretionary spending, it could be a decent long-term investment.

Mum's the word
We're due a Q2 trading update from Mothercare (LSE: MTC.L  ) on Friday, ahead of interim results due on Nov. 22. The firm has had well-known troubles, and is in the early stages of a planned three-year recovery.

Part of that plan involved poaching Simon Calver from LOVEFiLM to take on the chief executive role, and the focus is on cutting head office costs and paring the company's U.K. chain of shops down to a profitable core of around 200.

There's a further fall in profits expected for the year to March 2013, but 2014 should start to show an upswing as the cost-cutting program takes effect. Investors interested in recovery situations should keep their browsers open for this one.

Beat the FTSE
The same day will bring us a second-quarter trading statement from SABMiller (LSE: SAB.L  ) , which has the enviable record of having beaten the FTSE for 11 straight years and is on track to do so again this year. After that feat, the shares currently stand at 2,672 pence.

In July, the first quarter was looking good, with organic revenue up 8%. Forecasts for this year and next suggest annual EPS growth of 13%, with modest dividends of around 2.5%.

The shares aren't low-valued, on a P/E of nearly 18 for this year and falling to 16 next year. But that's only a little ahead of the long-term FTSE average of around 14, and top-performing companies usually do command higher valuations than average.

Will SABMiller beat the FTSE again this year? I wouldn't bet against it.

A tasty merger
The final one I want to look at today is Britvic (LSE: BVIC.L  ) , the soft-drink maker that has seen more than its fair share of trauma this year, and which will also give us a trading update on Thursday ahead of full-year results due Nov. 28.

Back in July, Britvic had to recall two of its products after a flaw was found in the caps of the bottles, and that caused a share price slump of around 30%.

It has recovered since then and is now standing at 358 pence, but part of that is due to a proposed merger with AG Barr, which was announced at the beginning of September.

Further news on both issues will be welcome.

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Alan Oscroft does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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