Can these October winners continue their upward climb?

Oil drill
Oil drill

I always like to check on the winners at the end of each month. For one thing, it gives me a chance to see what I've missed -- but, more importantly, it can throw up shares that still have a lot more growth ahead of them.


Surging oil

One that struck me this month is Nostrum Oil & Gas(LSE: NOG), whose shares have put on an impressive 27% in October, to reach 351p.

In its third-quarter update, Nostrum told us that its production had risen above 44,000 boepd, and that it's on track to meet its full-year guidance of 40,000 boepd. With the firm's 2016 drilling programme complete and all new wells brought online, and the KazTransOil pipeline set to start bringing transportation costs down by the middle of next year, the threatening days of ultra cheap oil are starting to look like just a horrible memory.

There's a loss expected for this year, but analysts have a return to profit penciled in for 2017, with earnings per share of around 32p -- that would give us a P/E of about 10.5. That looks good, but Nostrum's sizeable debt pile means the company isn't out of the woods just yet.

At the halfway stage, Nostrum had more then $100m of cash on its books -- but net debt stood at a hefty $860m. If the oil price remains robust, Nostrum's improving profits should see it able to chip away significantly at its debt over the next few years -- and any further price increases above today's $50 levels would accelerate that.

But against that, any price falls could put Nostrum under pressure again. And though OPEC has agreed to reduce output and support prices, the flow of the stuff hasn't started to decline yet -- and Brent Crude has fallen from over $52 a few weeks ago to a smidgen under $50 today.

Still, I reckon the odds are on Nostrum's side, and if you can stand a little risk then I think you could do well out of this one over the next five years.

Any old iron?

A steady improvement in the price of iron ore lies behind my next pick, Ferrexpo(LSE: FXPO). I've liked the look of Ferrexpo shares for a while, and a 40% share price rise to 104p in October hasn't dented that. Even after a trebling of the share price over the past 12 months, the shares are on forward P/E multiples that look scarily cheap -- under 5 for this year, rising only to around 6.5 on a predicted 2017 earnings fall. Despite the rising share price, earnings forecasts have been soaring over the past six months too.

On the downside, Ferrexpo is also shouldering a big debt burden. At 30 June net debt stood at $753m, and though that represented a reduction of $115m since December 2015, it still exceeds the company's market cap of £600m.

One possible risk is that the company's iron ore assets are in strife-torn Ukraine. Though the conflict there appears to have died down for now, it could easily become a flash-point again in the future, and anything that hinders Ferrexpo's exports through Black Sea ports could hit its bottom line.

Despite the risks, I see Ferrexpo shares as a good investment now for those with the appetite for a little risk -- and if forecasts prove accurate, there'll even be a 3% dividend next year.

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Alan Oscroft 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.