LONDON -- We're well into reporting season, and next week brings us yet more FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies with results -- mainly full-year results from those with years ending December, but we have the odd interim coming, too.
We've already looked at three companies reporting next week, and here are three more.
BHP Billiton (LSE:BLT) (NYSE:BBL)
Miners have been perking up a bit, so interim figures from BHP Billiton will be well worth looking at on Wednesday. Billiton's shares have gained nearly 30% since last June to stand at 2,225 pence today. Forecasts for the full year suggest a 20% fall in earnings per share after a similar fall for the year to June 2012, putting the shares on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of nearly 14 -- that's pretty much in line with the FTSE's long-term average. But with 2014 forecasts suggesting a rise of 20%, the P/E would drop to around 11.
So will the interims be good? Well, December's production report told us that the company expects to see a "compound annual growth rate of 10% in copper equivalent terms over the two years to the end of the 2014 financial year," while iron-ore production from Western Australia hit a 12th record and petroleum production was in line with full-year guidance.
BAE Systems will release full-year results on Thursday, and as it's a constituent of the Fool's Beginners' Portfolio, I'll be paying particular attention myself. At the time of the company's last interim update, we heard that things were consistent with expectations previously outlined at half-year time and that a modest growth in earnings per share for the full year was expected.
However, City analysts are currently predicting a small fall, with the current price of 330 pence putting the shares on a P/E of about eight for the year to December. Now, EPS forecasts for the next two years aren't sparkling -- a small rise this year and flat for 2014. But dividends are forecast to yield about 6%, and that should be twice-covered.
Falling just outside the FTSE 100, Informa, which is due to release full-year results on Thursday, is our third for today. Informa provides training, events, and professional and academic information services -- the kind of service company that one might expect to suffer in cost-cutting hard times. But Informa has held up well, delivering pretty steady earnings per share over the past few years.
And the share price has had a good year. At 491 pence, it's up 20% over the past 12 months and up 44% since last June's low. But even after that, the shares are only on a P/E of about 12, with modest earnings growth forecast for the next two years -- and dividends are expected to be around 3.7% to 4%.
Coming out of a recession when depressed share prices are rising, the odds can be tipped in favor of growth investors -- and we've seen strong share-price rises for two of the three companies featured here today. But finding the best growth shares is not easy. If you want some help with the task, I recommend you get yourself a copy of our brand-new report "The Motley Fool's Top Growth Share For 2013," which is the result of some serious brain-work by the Fool's top analysts. It's completely free of charge, but it will be available for a limited period only. So click here to get your copy today.