The Week in Review: Take a break from Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook Group, the travel company, is aiming to double its profits in the next three years. The optimistic outlook glosses over some important variables. Fuel price hikes are casting a dark cloud over operators, while the threat of terrorism continues to spook some travellers.

So while it is encouraging to hear the company talk so confidently about its future, there are too many unanswered questions to warrant recommending a buy on the stock at this stage. For investors in the stock, hang on. For everyone else, don't buy.



Protherics

Protherics, one of the UK's most established biopharmaceutical companies, is gearing up for a big 2008. It is second-nature for life sciences companies to point to jam tomorrow, but with six products entering phase II trials over the next six months, Protherics is able to boast that it has a larger development pipeline than any other UK biotech. While the shares have gained 20 per cent over recent months, they took a 5 per cent knock this week, providing an entry point for exposure to a biotech already generating revenue that has huge growth potential. Buy.



Trikona Trinity Capital

The UK property sector is in the doldrums, to put it mildly, so sector investors may wish to cast their eyes towards foreign markets. Trikona Trinity Capital raised £236m when it came to the market in April 2006, and so far it has invested in 12 projects in India. We believe that the Indian growth story is compelling for long-term investors. This is not a stock for the risk-averse investor, but is well worth a punt.

Accsys Technologies

Accsys Technologies can make practically anything out of its wood, and has been one of the best-performing stocks on Aim over the past couple of years. This week's interim results hinted that there could be more for investors to get excited about.

The company has developed a process that can turn soft wood into hard wood in a fraction of the time that Mother Nature takes to perform the same task. This is no stock for the faint-hearted, and given the strong run the shares have had there is a chance that they will tread water until new contracts are made public. But for higher-risk investors this is a buy.



Tribal Group

When a company raises the prospect of a "strategic review", many people start pondering whether the business will be carved up or sold off. Saying that, the strategic review at Tribal Group, an outsourcing and consultancy business that specialises in advising customers on business transformation, proved fairly prosaic as the company promised to focus on its core markets and improve profitability. However, Tribal is a very illiquid stock and shares have nosedived nearly 14 per cent over the past week, so investors may prefer to hold until upward momentum is restored.



Burren Energy

For a mid-cap oil stock, Burren's assets are straightforward – all are producing, and Burren's future as an independent operator in west Africa and Turkmenistan looks promising. The stock is still not exactly expensive, trading on 10.9 times forecast 2008 earnings, but the days of cheap oil appear to be over, and Burren has significant reserves of 230 million barrels of oil equivalent. The stock collapsed this week on the back of failed talks with Eni, but for long-term investors this could provide an attractive entry point into a company with solid long-term prospects. Buy.



Detica Group

There is no such thing as a safe bet in the tech sector. Detica, one of the darlings of the Techmark index, is the latest company to fall foul of nervous investors after its mixed outlook knocked 25 per cent off its share price. Yet the long-term growth story remains intact, and Detica is a proven performer in its core IT security market. With the stock now valued at 13.5 times 2008 forecasts, according to ABN, the share-price dip could provide a good buying opportunity. Buy.

Cranswick

Cranswick has just about scraped through the dreadful summer; the damage done by the chill and rain during the barbecue season failed to hit the Hull-based food manufacturer as hard as some had feared. Interims revealed that sales were up 22 per cent at £303.2m, inflating pre-tax profits by 16 per cent to £18m. The food business took in 94 per cent of total sales, earning £285.1m, a 23 per cent increase over the period last year. Growth helped justify an £8m investment in a new premium bacon factory. As we said in May, the premium end of the market is the place to be, and the new factory should aid Cranswick's efforts to win new contracts with the big chains. The business looks in good shape, and at 13 times forecast 2008 earnings, the shares look to be fairly valued. Hold.

Imperial Energy

Imperial Energy is walking a tightrope – turning down an approach from the Russian gas giant Gazprom was a brave move. But it shows that Imperial's management is not going to agree to any deal that is not beneficial to shareholders. If Gazprom wants to make a more attractive offer, it should play ball and do it at a premium to the prevailing share price.

Imperial is not cheap, but given its reserves, the favourable oil price and its attraction to larger players, it is worth buying.



Psion

It's been a tough few years for the portable computing device maker. The October launch of its iKon device triggered some excitement that Psion could still be a force, but after a profits warning this week, any recovery looks a way off. Sell.

Petra Diamonds

A consortium led by Petra announced a deal to buy Cullinan, the mine that yielded the Great Star of Africa, this week. The acquisition will make the company one of the world's top 10 diamond producers – and there is an unexploited Centenary Cut resource below the current operating mine. Petra could sparkle over the next few years.

a.dewson@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

    £30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

    Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

    £250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

    Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

    £230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003