Anglo American (LSE: AAL) shares moved back above 700p this morning, after the firm said it had agreed a deal to sell its niobium and phosphates businesses to a Chinese buyer for $1.5bn in cash. That's around 10 times last year's gross earnings (EBITDA) of $146m.
The buyer, China Molybdenum Co Ltd, may have bagged itself a long-term bargain, but I think this is a reasonably strong price in the current market. Anglo is targeting asset sales of $3bn in 2016. Today's deal will go a long way towards that target and towards the firm's 2016 goal of reducing net debt below $10bn.
I've been encouraged by Anglo's turnaround progress to date, but the firm's share price has risen by 143% so far this year. In my view, it's worth asking whether the shares are still cheap enough to buy.
Analysts expect Anglo's earnings to hit a low of $0.38 per share in 2016, before rising to $0.60 per share in 2017. That puts it on a 2016 forecast P/E of 27 and a 2017 forecast P/E of 17.5. That seems pricey but analysts have started to upgrade earnings forecasts for the firm. If these upgrades continue Anglo may yet offer more upside for patient investors.
A bumper year to come?
Marketing and advertising giant WPP (LSE: WPP) said this morning that net sales rose by 8.1% during the first quarter. Like-for-like growth accounted for 3.2% of this total, while acquisitions and currency effects delivered the rest of the increase.
The results are broadly positive for WPP, whose high-profile founder and chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell has recently taken a cautious view about the outlook for the global economy. Today's update reiterated this view, and noted that many big corporations are continuing to preserve cash and buy back shares instead of investing in growth.
Despite this, WPP says that it expects to deliver adjusted earnings per share growth of 10%-15% this year. The latest broker forecasts suggest that adjusted earnings will rise by 9.5% to 104.5p, putting the stock on a forecast P/E of 15.5. A 16% dividend hike is expected, giving WPP shares a forecast yield of 3.2%.
I think WPP offers good long-term growth potential, but it isn't obviously cheap at the moment. I plan to wait for a dip in price before buying more for my own portfolio.
A fat order book
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW) has seen its share price fall by about 8% so far in 2016. But today's update suggests there are no immediate concerns.
The number of houses in the group's order book has risen by 7.3% to 8,811 since this point last year. However, rising house prices mean that the total value of the order book has risen much more, by 16.6% to £2,168m.
This shows how rising house prices can fuel record profit growth for housebuilders. Obviously the opposite can also apply. If house prices fall, housebuilders such as Taylor Wimpey could see their profit margins collapse.
There doesn't seem to be any immediate risk of this happening. Today's house price report from Nationwide showed that house prices were broadly flat in April. Taylor Wimpey shares offer a forecast yield of 6.0% for 2016. I'd hold for now, but housing market bulls may want to buy more.
Roland Head owns shares of WPP and Anglo American. 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.