The UK's leading multi-price value retailer B&M European Value Retail(LSE: BME) says it's confident of hitting its full-year targets after record Christmas trading helped boost third quarter sales by more than a fifth. The group behind the popular B&M Bargains and B&M Home Stores boasted a 20.5% rise in revenues on a constant currency basis for the period from 25 September to 24 December in the UK, and 1 October to 31 December for its Jawoll branded stores in Germany.
Best Christmas ever
Total group revenues rose to £789.1m, compared to the £647.8m reported for the third quarter of fiscal 2016, helped by 14 new store openings and a good Christmas seasonal sell-through rate. Here in the UK, sales revenue for the 13-week period to Christmas Eve grew by 20.7% to £741.4m, from £614.5m for the same period a year earlier, with like-for-like sales up 7.2% during the quarter.
The higher like-for-like sales growth has been attributed to strong seasonal product performance, improved in-store standards for customers and the normalisation of service levels from the company's two new distribution centres. All-in-all B&M delivered its best ever Christmas trading, serving more than 5.5m customers in a single week in the UK as it continued to gain market share in an increasingly-value-focused market.
Robust business model
I think investors should feel reassured that B&M's relative appeal and popularity have remained buoyant during a time of growing consumer uncertainty and continuing structural change in the retail sector as a whole. The business model appears to be robust, and with further expansion I feel things can only get better for the low price retail chain.
Analysts' projections suggest that underlying earnings should rise by 43% over the next three years, leaving the shares trading on an undemanding P/E ratio of 16 by FY 2019. This compares very favourably to B&M's normal range of 20 to 30. Growth investors should certainly take a closer look.
Another mid-cap firm that deserves a closer look in my opinion is multinational engineering consultancy WS Atkins(LSE: ATK). The Epsom-based firm is one of the world's most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies. Despite challenges in some of its markets, the FTSE 250 group delivered encouraging results for the first half of its financial year, with underlying operating profit up 10.7% to £65.3m, and revenue climbing to £994.7m, a solid 10% improvement on the same period a year earlier.
The group's near-term outlook for its UK and North American businesses is particularly positive. The green light on the Hinkley Point C new-build nuclear project is an encouraging signal of commitment from the UK government to building crucial energy infrastructure. I believe Atkins' shares currently trade on a very attractive valuation with the P/E ratio falling to 11 by March 2019 after two more years of steady earnings growth.
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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.