Shares in car dealership Cambria Automobiles (LSE: CAMB) surged more than 7% higher this morning, after the company published an impressive set of interim results and said that full-year profits will be ahead of market expectations.
Cambria's underlying pre-tax profit rocketed 40.1% higher to £4.6m during the first half of the year, thanks to a 14.7% rise in sales and to big increases in profit margins on new and used cars.
On the face of it, Cambria shares look cheap. Before today's results, earnings per share were expected to rise by 30% to 7.9p this year. This figure is now likely to be upgraded -- I'd estimate that perhaps 8.5p per share is likely. This puts Cambria on a modest forecast P/E of about 8.8.
However, you need to remember that Cambria is a cyclical stock. New car sales have been fuelled by very cheap credit and may now be close to a cyclical peak. Although this is a risk, to some extent it's offset by Cambria's strong aftersales business. Servicing and repairs carry a much higher profit margin than car sales, and generated 40% of the group's gross profit during the first half.
Overall, I think it's probably too soon to sell Cambria. Further gains are possible.
I'm not so sure about Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN), where the outlook remains as uncertain as ever. Although the bank's bad debt problems don't yet seem to be as serious as we feared, things could still get worse. Standard Chartered is heavily exposed to China, India and the commodity market.
The real problem is that there's simply no way of knowing what will happen. City brokers have continued to slash their earnings forecasts for the firm in recent months. A year ago, Standard Chartered was expected to report earnings of $1.49 per share for 2016. Today, the forecast is for earnings of $0.30 per share -- 80% less.
This high level of uncertainty means that while Standard Chartered shares could certainly deliver a 30% gain if things turn out well, they may also fall by another 30%. As a shareholder myself, I'm considering cutting my losses to avoid the risk of further falls.
Acquisition should boost earnings
Services firm Adept Telecom (LSE: ADT) has risen by 50% over the last year. The shares rose by 3% this morning after Adept announced the £3.5m acquisition of Comms Group, a similar UK firm.
Adept expects the acquisition to be "immediately earnings enhancing", which suggests to me that broker profit forecasts for the current year may now be upgraded.
Comms generated an operating profit of £0.8m for the year to 31 March. I expect Adept's operating profit to be £3m-£4m for the same period, so the Comms contribution to this year's results should be meaningful.
Adept shares currently trade on about 14.5 times 2016/17 forecast earnings and offer a prospective yield of 2.7%. I think it's reasonable to assume that both Adept and Comms Group will generate similar profits to last year, plus additional organic growth. On this basis I'd rate Adept as a buy, as I think the shares could quite easily rise by another 30%.
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Roland Head owns shares of Standard Chartered. 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.