The Week In Review: Turbulent times ahead for EasyJet

Shares in EasyJet crashed this week after it admitted it was struggling to fill its planes. EasyJet attracted 2.9 million passengers in December, a 9.9 per cent increase. However, what sent the shares into a tailspin was news that the all-important load factor – how full the planes are flying – actually fell by 2.2 per cent to 78.9 per cent. EasyJet hopes to generate extra revenue this year from new baggage charges and fees from other services, but its own estimate of 20 per cent profit growth for 2008 looks ambitious. Sell.

The white-collar job finder Michael Page looks better equipped to cope with a global slowdown than during the last shake-out in the early Nineties. The business is growing at an impressive rate. Fee income for the final quarter of the year rose by over 37 per cent, with gross profit for the year up a similar amount. The group is dependent on confidence – the sort which encourages an employer to take on new people. But that is in short supply at the moment, especially in the UK. Still, the 60 per cent fall in the shares over the past six months. looks overdone. Buy.

Over one of the toughest Christmas trading periods in years, the camera specialist Jessops achieved the near-impossible – it managed to increase sales. That is quite a performance considering the miserable time it has had since floating four years ago. However, one swallow does not make a summer and Jessops needs to sustain the improvement. Even at 8.3p, against a float price of 155p, the shares are no more than a punt. Avoid.

Staffline is a leading supplier of blue-collar contract labour, primarily to the food industry. Profits for the year just ended are likely to have risen by 30 per cent to £4.4m. An upbeat trading statement said there was a strong pipeline of opportunities pointing to further progress in the current year. Staffline offers reasonable value at 7.6 times 2008 likely earnings.

Hichens Harrison is the City of London's oldest firm of stockbrokers. But the firm is now reaching out, forging new trading links within a number of overseas markets. The company said this week it expected to finish 2007 with a significant increase in turnover and profits, pushing the price higher and leaving it well up with events for now. Hold.

British firm Ricardo is one of the world's leading automotive engineering consultants. A high-octane performance for the opening five months has put it on track to deliver profits of £13.5m for the full year to next June. Ricardo is serving a multinational industry being forced to spend heavily in order to adapt to environmental and legislative changes. The shares belong in the fast lane. Buy.

Shares in The Restaurant Group, which owns chains such as Garfunkel's, crashed 31 per cent after a profits warning last month. But sales growth in the final quarter only slowed to 1 per cent, giving an overall improvement on the year of 5.5 per cent – its best performance for 10 years. At 119p, the shares are now extremely cheap. Buy.

Vantis offers a range of tax and accountancy advice for firms and wealthy individuals. The present climate is tailor-made for it to grow its business recovery side. However, it has been unable to find any suitable acquisitions. Estimates of around £13.5m leave the shares on just over eight times earnings. An acquisition should inject more excitement into the price. For now, hold.

Greggs the bakers sells comfort food such as pasties and doughnuts for people on a budget. So in these belt-tightening times, it is no surprise to see Greggs unbuckle a strong second-half increase in sales. However, a good part of the increase was down to the rising cost of key ingredients such as wheat and dairy. If this is stripped out, the numbers will not look as impressive. Rising costs have troubled Greggs in the past. Hold.

Shares in Premier Foods are half what they were in late 2006. Although analysts keep reminding the market of the value of the company's iconic brands such as Hovis, the bread business has been toasted by the soaring price of wheat. Even at current depressed levels, the stock looks vulnerable. Avoid.

The slowdown in the housing market has proved tricky for Legal & General, a leading provider of mortgage insurance. But sales of critical illness protection policies have held up and it has seen substantial increases in sales of bulk annuities. Despite its size, L&G has shown it has the nimbleness to develop new lines of business when conditions get tough. Hold.

The nation's stock of council homes clearly need some serious care. The amount of work due to be carried out by Mears, which does much of the repair and maintenance, is now £1.4bn. It means it will be working close to capacity for the next two years. The shares are not expensive. Buy.

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

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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

    £70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

    Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

    £13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific