Today I'll be discussing the outlook for two mid-cap firms that could prove to be irresistible buys for contrarians looking to pick up out-of-favour growth stocks on the cheap. Is it time to seize the opportunity and buy these FTSE 250 shares, or should investors wait for a better opportunity?
It's certainly been an eventful year for telecoms group TalkTalk (LSE: TALK), but not in a good way. The cyber-attack on the company's website last October left the firm with both a bruised reputation and battered share price. Pre-tax profits halved to just £14m for fiscal 2016 after being hit by £42m of exceptional costs as a result of the security breach. Perhaps unsurprisingly, news of the cyber-attack prompted a massive sell-off with the shares falling to multi-year lows below £2 by the start of this year.
After sensing a buying opportunity it was time for bargain hunters to pounce, sending the share price soaring by 35% within months, before another sell-off ensued in May. Again we find TalkTalk shares changing hands at heavily discounted levels around £2, and perhaps offering both value investors and brave contrarians another bite of the cherry.
The City is certainly expecting a rebound this year, with analysts talking about a 69% rise in underlying earnings for the full year to the end of March, and a further 25% improvement forecast for next year. This year's sell-off leaves the shares priced a third lower than a year ago, and supporting a chunky dividend yield well on the way to 8%. Furthermore, with the price-to-earnings ratio falling to 11 next year, I believe brave investors could be getting a lot of bang for their buck.
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Europe's leading corrugated packaging company Smurfit Kappa Group (LSE: SKG) has enjoyed tremendous growth in recent times with pre-tax profits rising from EUR299m to EUR599m in just half a decade and revenues hitting a staggering EUR8.1bn by the end of last year. Shareholder rewards have been hiked accordingly with dividend payouts rising from 15¢ per share in 2011 to the 68¢ per share full-year payout for 2015. Despite the continued strong performance last year, the Irish group has suffered a share price slump with Smurfit losing a quarter of its market value over the past 12 months, as growth projections come crashing down to mid-single-digits over the medium term.
The Dublin-based firm, which recently joined the mid-cap FTSE 250 index after moving its primary listing to London, posted a strong set of interim results earlier this year reporting a 28% rise in pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of June, with improved margins and good organic volume growth. Although a slowdown in growth is anticipated over the next couple of years, I still believe Smurfit offers exceptional value for investors seeking capital growth, with the shares trading at just nine times forward earnings for 2017, and a growing dividend that currently yields a respectable 3.8%.
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Bilaal Mohamed 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.