Three to buy
This "super-budget" hotel chain could be one of the winners as British consumers get cautious again. Its latest half-year figures show that total sales have risen by more than a third. It now has 2,430 rooms across 27 hotels in 18 cities and will open new sites in Leeds, Sheffield, Ipswich and Barcelona this year, with expansion further afield also in the pipeline. Skilled management has carved out a strong niche in the branded budget market and expansion is likely to continue. 114.5p
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The Daily Telegraph
Premier Technical Services Group installs and maintains fire extinguishers and lightning conductors in buildings. This is specialist work that is often governed by regulations, and that should ensure a steady flow of high-margin business, whatever the economic outlook. Customers tend to remain loyal in this industry and growth has been strong in recent years, bolstered by small "bolt-on" acquisitions. Top management owns a significant stake such "skin in the game" is always reassuring to investors. 170p
The Mail on Sunday
This aerospace engineer's wheels, brakes and specialist parts are used on 22,000 military planes. The US military is its biggest customer. It also supplies the civil aviation sector. Teething problems with a new generation of aeroplanes have seen the shares go through a "turbulent patch", but that should be outweighed by strong demand for new planes in the years ahead. Add in a rising US military budget and investors should be rewarded. 436.5p
Three to sell
The Sunday Times
Stobart Group's approach for this short-haul regional airline was rebuffed earlier this year, but "Flybe could do with a saviour". It has long struggled to make money and is expected to post a £20m loss when it next posts annual results. The business is vulnerable to swings in the UK economy and even freak weather blizzards this spring wiped £4m from its earnings. Consolidation is coming to the aviation industry, but Flybe management's resistance is likely to make for "slow, painful progress". 37.5p
This manufacturer of convenience foods was one of our 2017 tips of the year, but it has proved a disappointment, says Investors Chronicle. Broker downgrades and a profit warning last month have turned the IC sour on the stock. Its $748m acquisition of US business Peacock Foods has failed to deliver the expected growth, while the UK and Ireland arm is also encountering turbulence. The shares are not expensive, but avoid what is currently the "second-most-shorted stock on the UK market". 130p
This online grocer is forecast to remain loss-making until 2020, but even that date yields a forward price-to-earnings (p/e) ratio of 205. Prospects for growth through technology sales to international retailers have been hyped. A few deals are in the pipeline, but "bears will have the last laugh". Competition remains intense as it burns cash on "Nasa-like" projects with few benefits for "planet Earth". 534.75p
...and the rest
Those wanting retail exposure beyond Britain's troubled high street should look at Zara's Spanish owner Inditex (€26.09). It can be hard to find reliable resources firms on the London exchange, but Seplat Petroleum is "investment-grade" (131p). Concerns about advertising revenue have led ITV's shares to slump, but we see a good entry point into a business with an "attractive, well-covered dividend" (149p).
A first stateside acquisition by compliance software provider Ideagen should generate growth (114p). Gloomy sentiment about technology stocks is obscuring opportunities at secure-payments specialist Eckoh (40.5p). Audio products group Focusrite is winning new market share (460p). Talk of a restructure at chemicals business Johnson Matthey could be a catalyst for the share price (3,262p). Aim-listed video-games developer Sumo is an "attractive, cash-generative growth story" (93.5p).
FTSE 100 speciality chemicals business Croda boasts strong margins and should deliver further growth (4,611p). Recovering Rolls-Royce is a British "champion industrial technology innovator waiting to shine" (876.25p). Hostel booking site Hostelworld is tapping the growing "social travel experience" trend among millennials (387.5p). Card Factory generates "oodles of cash" and often pays special dividends (239p).
The Mail on Sunday
Saga has not always been a steady performer, but a greying population should ultimately ensure that the shares come good, with a 7%+ dividend yield in the meantime (125p).
An American view
Alphabet has the world's dominant search engine in Google, and also owns valuable businesses such as YouTube, the Android operating system, and Waymo autonomous vehicles, says Barron's. Yet investors aren't giving the group enough credit for its growth outlook and franchise value. More than 86% of revenue ($111bn last year) comes from advertising, much of it related to search queries. This market will grow as advertising spending moves online. When it comes to "Big Tech", it also has better growth prospects than Apple, less regulatory risk than Facebook, is better value than Microsoft, and a lot cheaper than Amazon. The shares look inexpensive at 25 times projected 2018 earnings.
Cybersecurity software play Avast is planning an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange next month. The float could see the Czech-based firm valued at £2.8bn, making it London's largest listing for a technology company. Avast is one of the world's biggest direct-to-consumer cybersecurity firms with roughly 435 million users worldwide. Founders Eduard Kucera and Pavel Baudi, who wrote one of the first cybersecurity programs after their computers were hit by the virus known as "Vienna" in the 1980s, own 46% of the shares. Avast had a turnover of $780m in 2017.
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