Should you buy Premier Oil plc, DS Smith plc and James Latham plc following recent news?

Stock market bull and bear
Stock market bull and bear

Today I am looking at three Footsie stocks attracting investor attention.


Boxing clever

Packaging giant DS Smith (LSE: SMDS) was one of the Footsie's largest risers in otherwise-subdued Thursday business, a terrific trading update sending shares 5% higher on the day. The company said that revenues leaped 6% during the 12 months to April 2016, to £4.07bn. This propelled adjusted pre-tax profit 12% higher, to £332m.

The boxbuilder witnessed terrific demand for its products across Europe, it advised, with five acquisitions during the period bolstering its position in 13 countries. And the proposed purchase of Portugal's corrugated packaging business Gopaca should bolster the top line looking ahead.

The City certainly buys into DS Smith's strong momentum, and earnings are expected to rise 8% in the year to April 2017. I reckon a consequent P/E rating of 12.5 times -- combined with a 3.6% dividend yield -- makes the stock a steal at current prices.

Wooden woes

Panel and timber distributor James Latham(LSE: LTHM) also enjoyed a boost in Thursday trade, the stock moving further away from recent seven-month lows as bubbly financials of its own pushed the stock price 3% higher.

The company saw revenue climb 6.3% in the year to March 2016, it noted, to £185.9m. As a result pre-tax profit shot 27.7% higher from fiscal 2015, to £12.9m. However, growth slowed during the second half of the year, as falling wood and panel prices weighed. And the company also had to nurse higher overheads due to "extra volumes and longer warehouse hours."

These problems are expected to continue into the current period, at least according to the number crunchers, and a 12% earnings duck is currently pencilled in. Sure, a P/E rating of 13.4 times may be attractive on paper. But I reckon James Latham's slowing momentum does not make it a compelling 'buy' at the present time.

Fossil fears

Investors in fossil fuel plays like Premier Oil (LSE: PMO) have been encouraged by Brent's ability to hang around the $50 per barrel marker, despite the huge uncertainty surrounding the outcome of today's EU referendum.

And yesterday's EIA stockpile data from the US assuaged enduring fears over the state of the oil market's long-term supply outlook. Inventories fell by a further 900,000 barrels last week, reducing total stocks to 530.6m barrels.

But this total still stands a whisker away from recent record highs. And while recent supply outages in Nigeria and Canada can be thanked for recent stock reductions, signs that US producers are picking up their tool-belts again casts a shadow on the oil sector's already-precarious supply/demand imbalance.

Premier Oil is already expected to keep punching losses through to the end of 2017 at least. And I expect bottom-line pain to persist beyond this period, making the producer an unappealing stock pick at present.

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