Are 88 Energy Ltd, Restore plc and M&C Saatchi plc the 3 hottest small-caps around?

88 Energy Project Icewine

Document storage specialist Restore(LSE: RST) has performed exceptionally well of late. In fact, its shares have soared by 17% in the last year and with it having an excellent track record of growth, it seems to offer a highly enticing risk/reward ratio.

Looking back at the last four years, Restore has been able to increase its bottom line at a double-digit rate each year. This is due to its excellent business model, which benefits from a relatively high amount of repeat business and offers a high degree of stability and consistency. And with Restore forecast to record a rise in earnings of 9% this year and 11% next year, it would be of little surprise for investor sentiment towards the stock to improve.

With Restore trading on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 1.7, it appears to offer significant upward rerating potential. As such, now seems to be an excellent time to buy a slice of the company - especially with the economic outlook for the UK being rather uncertain.

Growth and more growth

Similarly, advertising specialist M&C Saatchi(LSE: SAA) has recorded excellent growth of late, with its shares being up by 13% in the last three months. As with Restore, M&C Saatchi has a strong track record of growth and its bottom line has risen by over 8% per annum during the last five years. With further growth forecast for the next two years, M&C Saatchi's PEG ratio stands at just 1.2, which indicates that its capital gains prospects are high.

Clearly, M&C Saatchi's business model is relatively cyclical and while there are a number of risks facing the UK and world economies, it seems to be well-prepared to overcome them. Notably, it's relatively well-diversified, has a strong management team and with a sound balance sheet, M&C Saatchi looks set to deliver relatively resilient growth over the medium-to-long term. Therefore, now seems to be a logical time to buy it.

Risks and rewards

Meanwhile, 88 Energy(LSE: 88E) is a much higher-risk play than either Restore or M&C Saatchi. That's at least partly because the company has no revenue at the present time and is therefore entirely reliant on news flow. As has been the case so far in 2016, this could be positive, but it could equally cause a period of disappointment for the company's investors following 88 Energy's share price rise of 300% since the turn of the year.

However, 88 Energy is also riskier than Restore and M&C Saatchi because the oil and gas sector's future outlook remains highly uncertain. So, while 88 Energy could be of interest for less risk-averse investors and may go on to deliver further share price gains, for most investors the likes of Restore and M&C Saatchi hold vastly more long-term appeal.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of M&C Saatchi and Restore plc. 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.

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