When the market turns positive towards a company, is that a good indication that it's time to buy? Here are two recent winners that must be worth a close look.
Shares in semiconductor wafer manufacturer IQE(LSE: IQE) have soared by 70% since 27 June, to 27.7p, spurred on by a 20 July trading update which told us to expect first-half sales to rise by at least 15%.
We've had confirmation of that today, with H1 revenue up 18% to £63m and adjusted pre-tax profit up a whopping 71% to £10.1m. And perhaps most importantly for a growing tech company, operating cash was up 176% to £12.4m, helping knock effective debt down by 28% to £35.4m.
Chief executive Dr Drew Nelson pointed to the firm's product diversification coupled with a 45% growth in its photonics business as being behind the recent success, saying: "The photonics market... is at an early stage in the growth cycle. We expect our photonics business to continue to grow strongly for the foreseeable future."
Is IQE a good investment right now? I was bullish back when the shares were trading at a forward P/E multiple of around six, though that's since risen to 9.8 for this year, dropping back to 8.8 on 2017 forecasts. There are no dividends expected for a little while yet, while the company uses its cash to expand the business and to pay down debt, but I'd expect to see them added to the mix in the coming years.
I still rate IQE highly. On a 2017 PEG of 0.8, some of the rosy expectations are already factored into the price, but I can see solid long-term growth here.
Digging the dirt
Metals and minerals are perhaps less exciting than hi-tech electronics, but there'll always be long-term demand for them. And it looks like the long-awaited start of a cyclical recovery has given Glencore(LSE: GLEN) a nice boost, with its shares up 155% since a 2016 low in January, to 184p.
But the major part of Glencore's turnaround has been its focus on reducing its massive debt burden, and in a first-half report in August chief executive Ivan Glasenberg told us: "We have already largely achieved our asset disposals target of $4-5 bn," adding that the firm's "divestment strategy remains one of maximising value for shareholders."
Net debt is still pretty high, mind, standing at $23.6bn at the time, though adjusted EBITDA came in around 5.4 times the company's net interest payments -- and Glencore reiterated its plan to get net debt down to $16.5bn to $17.5bn by the end of this year. So while debt remains a concern, it shouldn't be too much of a problem now, especially with prices of some of Glencore's key commodities firming up and cashflow improving.
One thing I take from Glencore's recent history is that whenever the market marks a company down, it almost always goes too far. In this case, Glencore's shares were oversold to a silly extent last year, as everybody seemed to think that a slowing of Chinese growth would lead to the end of demand for commodities.
But if you stick with solid FTSE 100 companies when they're in a cyclical downturn, and buy the shares when everyone else is selling, you're likely to come out on top.
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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.