Share tips of the week

Three to buy

Kingfisher

(Mail on Sunday) B&Q and Screwfix-owner Kingfisher had an “extraordinary” 2020. The DIY group has benefited from “our desire to make the same four walls look nicer”. But the firm owes its success to more than the lockdown boom: CEO Thierry Garnier’s five-year plan has focused on improving performance in France, a key market, cutting some costs and investing in its digital presence. Turnover for the year to 31 January 2021 was up by 7.2% to £12.3bn and pre-tax profits grew from £103m in 2019 to £756m in 2020. The firm’s cash pile is “reassuring on the dividend front”, and its long- term strategy “seems to be paying off”. 325p

Ford

(Shares) Ford’s investments in electric and autonomous vehicles are yielding positive results. As activity recovers after the pandemic the car maker “should see increased sales for its cars and pickup trucks”. The group is suffering from the impact of the global semiconductor shortage, which could see earnings drop by $1bn to $2.5bn. But with a “clearer electric-vehicle strategy” the firm looks well prepared for the future. $12.85

Kenmare

(Investors’ Chronicle) Mozambique-based miner Kenmare Resources had a difficult year, but the firm has nonetheless managed to maintain its dividend. Production for the year was down by 15%, but higher ilmenite (a mineral-rich sand) prices “helped the bottom line”. Debt has risen sharply but the firm’s relocation of its WCP B plant was also the final step in a “multi-year growth programme” that should yield positive results. 407p

Three to sell

Genel Energy

(Investors’ Chronicle) Kurdistan-based oil company Genel Energy saw its sales more than halve in 2020. Cashflow slumped to $4m from $99m in 2019. Production is set to stay flat at around 32,000 barrels of oil per day. The firm has previously struggled to get paid by the Kurdistan Regional Government and is still owed around $159m of oil sales, “equal to its entire 2020 revenue”. Profits were further harmed by a $320m impairment. All this adds up to a sell. 187p

Manchester & London

(The Daily Telegraph) The Telegraph tipped Manchester & London in 2017 when it switched from “largely British shares to a growth-focused fund” containing big tech stocks such as Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet. It has performed strongly over the last three years. But now a “basket of stocks” that should have returned 32% over 2020 only yielded an 8.4% gain. This is because the trust sold call options on the shares it holds, limiting overall returns. This approach has complicated “what should be a straightforward investment rationale”. The argument for the trust “no longer holds”. 586p

In The Style

(The Sunday Times) Online fashion retailer In The Style listed on Aim this month. It made a £2m profit on sales of £35.4m in the nine months to January 2021. FounderAdam Frisby ascribes last year’s growth to the firm’s “switch from selling dresses to lockdown-friendly jogging bottoms”. But it remains to be seen whether recent growth will “outlive the pandemic… Investors should wait for evidence [that it] isn’t just a passing fad.” Avoid. 235p

…and the rest

Investors’ Chronicle

“Pent up demand” by homeowners spending their savings on improvements helped offset the lockdown-induced downturn at LED-lighting manufacturer Luceco. It looks “well positioned” for the recovery. Buy (266p). Speciality chemicals and personal care business Elementis “posted a predictably downbeat set of results after a pandemic-ravaged year”. Sales in its core divisions, personal care and coatings, fell by 9% and 7% respectively. The group also needs to reduce debt. “We remain cautious for now.” Sell (121p).

Shares

Data services group Relx has seen its shares fall behind “since the market shifted its focus to cheap value stocks”. But the share-price weakness represents an opportunity. Relx’s focus on organic growth, coupled with an “excellent track record”, make it a good investment for the long term. Buy (1,757p).

The Daily Telegraph

Record-low interest rates hit banks even before the virus. Lockdowns threatening customers’ solvency “make matters worse”. Sell Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo(€2.30).

The Motley Fool

Hydrogen fuel cells “are increasingly being made obsolete by lithium-ion batteries”, which doesn’t bode well for green-energy hydrogen companies such as Plug Power. The company has also said it will have to restate accounts for previous years. Avoid ($35). Revenue at Nokia declined by 6% last year and is set to fall again this year. Consumers are ditching Nokia’s traditional 4G network for 5G, “to which the company has yet to fully upgrade”. Avoid (€3.50).

Three stocks to buy to forge a path to our green future

The world is undergoing rapid change amid the degradation of the natural environment and the looming breakdown of the global climate system. There is therefore a worldwide pan-industrial effort to use resources with much greater efficiency. To exploit this secular theme, we identify companies that either deliver or benefit from the efficient use of resources. We have strict criteria covering both quality and value.

We like to own firms with enduring assets that generate predictable long-term cash flows. They must benefit from high barriers to entry (so it is difficult for potential rivals to gain a foothold in the market) and trade at a reasonable valuation. This approach has served us well: the Menhaden investment trust’s net asset value (NAV) has risen by an annual 11% in the past five years.

Helping technology go green

Google’s parent company Alphabet, (Nasdaq: GOOGL) is helping the entire technology industry transition to a more sustainable footing. The company is one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable-power worldwide and aims to run only on carbon-free energy by 2030. The firm occupies a dominant position in search engines and has the ability to monetise an unparalleled level of user interaction, which should underpin revenue growth for many years. Furthermore, there should be significant potential to expand margins as YouTube, Cloud and other business lines mature and investments in start-ups mature.

Sophisticated internet infrastructure

Telecoms and media group Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR), a key broadband provider to over 20 million households, is set to play an important role in enabling significant improvements in resource and energy-efficiency with the development of the internet of things (IoT). Its hybrid fibre-coax network (comprising a mix of fibre-optic cables and coaxial cables, the type used to deliver cable television), is critical for infrastructure. Traditional telecom providers still partly rely on copper telephone wires, while high upfront costs serve to limit fibre build-outs by incumbents and new entrants.

Charter offers a superior bundled connectivity product (including mobile) at a lower price than competitors. We believe it can continue to deliver robust growth in free cash flow per share based upon a combination of revenue growth, falling capital intensity, share buybacks and lower customer turnover.

On track for industry-leading profits

Canadian Pacific Railway (Toronto: CP) owns infrastructure that can’t be replicated. Prohibitive start-up costs and building regulations ensure that no one is building railways today. Economies of scale mean that transporting freight by rail is up to four times more fuel-efficient than by road, which helps provide rail operators with a significant cost advantage over their main competitor, trucks, on longer-haul routes.

We believe these scale benefits will persist even as we shift to electric and autonomous vehicles because rail should be able to harness the same technologies. The proposed merger with Kansas City Southern will create a unique footprint linking Canada, the US and Mexico. The ensuing opportunities should help the company deliver industry-leading earnings growth in the years ahead.