Could this Trump-friendly stock flatten the competition in 2017?
With a market cap of only £128m, it's not surprising if many investors haven't heard of Somero Enterprises(LSE: SOM). But thanks to Donald Trump's US election win and his commitment to boosting infrastructure, I think this company could be receiving a lot more attention over the coming months and years. Let me explain why.
On initial inspection, Somero hardly sets the pulse racing. It manufactures laser-guided equipment used for spreading and levelling volumes of concrete for commercial flooring and other horizontal surfaces. So far, so dull.
Nevertheless, a quick look at the company's share price performance over the past few years should make a lot of investors sit up and take notice. Back in 2011, Somero's shares could be picked up for just 10p. Today, thanks to sizeable increases in revenue, net profits multiplying from $1m to $12m since 2012 and a notable jump since Trump's victory, the very same shares are priced at just over 226p each. Think about that. If you'd had the foresight (or fortune) to invest £1,000 in the company a few years ago, you'd now be looking at a pot of more than £22,000. That's quite a return.
But there are other attractions to Somero besides its rocketing share price. Returns on capital and operating margins have exploded over the past few years. Although not a share most would choose to invest in for income, the dividend has also been rising by double figures and an easily-covered payout of just over 3% is expected for 2017. The company has $12m in cash on its books and no net debt. Any other positives? You bet. On a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) of just below 11 for 2017, Somero's shares still look cheap to me.
As a company - albeit a cyclical one - I think Somero has a lot to offer investors. But how does it compare to other companies involved in infrastructure, such as £1.35bn cap property, residential, construction and services company Kier Group(LSE: KIE)?
On a forecast P/E of 13, shares in Kier look reasonably priced. There's a chunky dividend yield of 4.8% to keep income investors interested and net profits look set to be substantially higher over the next two years (£105m and £117m in 2017 and 2018 respectively). At face value, Kier looks a pretty inviting investment.
Unfortunately, there's one big elephant in the room that I think could make the Sandy-based company's shares substantially more volatile than those of Somero Enterprises. Yes, you've guessed it: Brexit. In times of economic uncertainty, large infrastructure projects can be shelved or delayed, ultimately hurting Kier's bottom line. Given that the majority of its revenue comes from the US, Somero isn't quite as exposed to the consequences of our EU departure. Indeed, in its last set of results in September, CEO Jack Conney made reference to the latter's strong performance in its North American, European and Chinese markets. It's this geographical diversification that, in my opinion, will see Somero outperform stocks like Kier for the foreseeable future.
So long as you're willing to take on extra risk for the possibility of higher returns, I think Somero Enterprises warrants serious attention. I fully expect to see the company featuring on many watchlists before too long.
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Paul Summers has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Somero Enterprises, Inc. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.