Do Today's Updates From Ladbrokes PLC, Croda International Plc And Image Scan Holdings Plc Make Them Star Buys?

Photo credit: Rafael Matsunaga. Licence:
Photo credit: Rafael Matsunaga. Licence:

Shares in bookmaker Ladbrokes (LSE: LAD) have surged by over 6% today after it released a rather mixed update. While the company recorded a loss in the 2015 financial year due in part to exceptional costs and the effects of around £50m of higher gambling taxes, it also stated that it's on track to meet its 2016 financial targets.


This seems to have been well-received by the market, with Ladbrokes still in the relatively early days of its new strategy that was announced last July. However, the company is expected to return to profit this year and with the merger with Coral on track, it would be of little surprise for the company's share price to rise over the medium term in anticipation of improved financial performance.

Yet with Ladbrokes trading on a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 20.2, there seem to be better options elsewhere. That's especially the case since there's a risk that Ladbrokes experiences delays in turning its financial performance around.

Successful... but expensive

Also reporting today was chemicals company Croda(LSE: CRDA). Its shares are currently up by over 4% as it recorded a rise in adjusted pre-tax profit of 8.8% in the 2015 financial year, with both sales and pre-tax profit reaching record levels. This was at least partly due to the impact of the company's focus on innovation, with new and protected products growing at four times underlying sales and representing 26.1% of total sales.

Looking ahead, Croda expects trading conditions to remain challenging but remains on track to meet guidance for 2016. However, with its shares trading on a forward P/E ratio of 20.7, it seems to be rather expensive given that a number of its index peers are trading on relatively low valuations at the present time. As such, and while Croda is a high quality business with a bright future, it may be best to wait for a keener share price before piling-in.

Price rises ahead

Meanwhile, shares in Image Scan Holdings(LSE: IGE) have soared by over 20% today following the release of a positive trading update. The company has reported that over £1m of new orders have been added to the £600k of orders carried forward from the prior year, with multi-unit orders having been received for the newly released portable X-ray systems from two Asian customers.

Furthermore, Image Scan has reported a continued strengthening of its industrial order book, with ongoing investment in research and development highlighting the company's long term future growth potential. It remains optimistic regarding its first half performance and is looking for continued strong order intake to support the second half of the year. As such, its shares could continue to increase in price in the coming months and may be worth a closer look for less risk-averse investors.

Of course, finding the best stocks at the lowest prices can be challenging when work and other commitments get in the way.

That's why the analysts at The Motley Fool have written a free and without obligation guide called 10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market.

It's a step-by-step guide that could make a real difference to your financial future and allow you to retire early, pay off your mortgage, or even build a seven-figure portfolio.

Click here to get your free and without obligation copy - it's well-worth a read!

Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.