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5 Opportunities for the Week Ahead

Alan Oscroft
September 17, 2012

LONDON -- We have a relatively quiet week ahead, but there are a few interesting annual and interim results announcements due. We're also expecting a small handful of important trading updates, too.

I've been looking for those that may be worth a bit of research ahead of the news. After all, like Boy Scouts, Foolish investors should always be prepared.

Galliford Try (LSE: GFRD.L  )
Homebuilding and construction group Galliford Try is due to release preliminary results on Wednesday amid a number of other results from the sector.

So far, results have been good, though the reactions of the market have been mixed. On Wednesday, Barratt Developments announced a strong year, including a 159% boost in pre-tax profits, but the shares fell 6% on the news. On Thursday, shares in Kier Group flew when the company also released good full-year results. Redrow will also report this Wednesday.

But what about Galliford Try? In July's trading update we were told the firm has "exceeded the objectives of our three-year transformational homebuilding plan" and that the full year should be in line with expectations. That suggests we should see a dividend of 4.5% from the 672 pence shares, with a price-to-earnings ratio of 11, and that payout should be twice covered by earnings.

This is clearly a sector that's recovering nicely, but with Galliford already up 50% over the past 12 months, some will feel it's priced high enough now. I don't share that view, and it still looks like a good value to me.

Smiths (LSE: SMIN.L  )
Wednesday will also bring us full-year figures from Smiths Group, the multinational diversified engineer, and we're expecting a fairly flat year with profits pretty much in line with last year's. With the shares at 1,062 pence, earnings should bring us a P/E of about 11, and the dividend yield is expected to be around 3.5%. So that looks like a middling dividend from shares that are modestly priced, if not a screaming bargain. So why the interest?

Well, the engineering sector has been attracting more confidence of late, as the tough years of economic meltdown and severely tightened government spending are looking more and more likely to be nearing their end. Along with that, sector share prices have been rising: Smiths is about 20% up on its low point at the end of last year.

Forecasts for next year see the P/E falling to nine and the dividend firming up to 3.8%, which in itself is not a massive improvement, but many will see it as the start of a longer-term upward trend for the sector.

Oxford Catalysts (LSE: OCG.L  )
I like to keep an eye open for small-cap growth possibilities, and next week we'll have one in the shape of Oxford Catalysts Group, which is due to release interim figures on Friday. The shares have put on a spurt of late, gaining 35% in September to today's price of 77 pence, and they're more than 50% up on their low point around the beginning of the year.

The company is not profitable yet, with losses forecast for this year and next, but over the past six months it has been steadily picking up contracts to provide its technology to synthetic-fuel production projects -- and that's clearly a market that could have great potential.

It could well be one for tech-savvy growth investors to keep an eye on.

Imperial Tobacco (LSE: IMT.L  )
As well as a number of results, we also have a couple of important trading updates due this week, with